Previously at the ICA - Films

still: Feast of Villains

Feast of Villians

19 Oct 200920 Oct 2009

Pan Jianlin is probably China's most pugnacious independent filmmaker. His third feature Feast of Villains takes a no-nonsense approach to a deeply nonsensical situation. Fugui (Zhou Cheng) is as close to being a Chinese everyman as you could find. He lives with his father in decrepit rooms in Beijing and works as a courier, driving a van he's named 'Happiness Express'. But Dad is terminally ill and Fugui, faced with a choice between paying for surgery or even more expensive herbal medicine, takes the costlier option. Suddenly his life is defined by the scrabble to raise cash, and he soon realises that he can do it easily – if hardly painlessly – by going to Guangdong to sell one of his kidneys to a clinic serving rich Japanese customers. It's not hard to imagine this story played as an angry social protest, but Pan sees it differently. For him, this is an altogether darker satire: an analysis of the way that China's perennial victims conspire in their own oppression. Fugui can't see how or why he is the system's fall-guy. That doesn't make him any less likeable, but it does make this the sharpest Chinese indie of the past year. Tony Rayns

dir Pan Jianlin, China, 2008, 85mins

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