Saturday 27th December

All in this tea
a film by Les Blank

The latest film from distinguished documentarian Les Blank, in collaboration with co-director Gina Leibrecht, follows American tea importer David Lee Hoffman to some of the most remote regions of China in search of the world's finest teas. Hoffman is obsessed; during his youth he spent four years with Tibetan monks in Nepal, which included a friendship with the Dalai Lama, and was introduced to some of the finest of teas. Unable to find anything but insipid tea bags in the U.S., Hoffman began traveling to China, the homeland of tea. There, he struggles against language barriers and Byzantine business codes to convince the Chinese that the farmers make better tea than the factories and their craft should be honored and preserved. This craft can not be learned from a book, but has been handed down through generations of tea makers for thousands of years.

I guarantee that once it's over you will be intensely craving some really good tea.

"This film is a labour of love by Les Blank and Gina Leibrecht, and is a gentle poetic film about one man's passion for tea." - Alex Lee, New Zealand International Documentary Film Festival

The 8 Model Works
a film by Yang Ban Xi

A documentary musical about the rise and fall of Madam Mao's colorful propaganda opera's during the 1965-1975 Cultural Revolution in China and their renewed popularity in modern day China. These 8 Revolutionary model operas were called the Yang Ban Xi. Based on traditional Chinese stories and adapted to the likes of Mao's wife Jiang Qing Min, the first lady of the Cultural Revolution, these operas presented the world in a much simpler way. All the good guys were farmers and revolutionary soldiers, singing and dancing in the broad spotlight. All the bad guys were landlords and anti revolutionaries with dark make-up. They were pure propaganda told in beautiful images, incorporating the most modern techniques of cinematography, song, and dance. It was the only culture allowed in China for 10 years. Although Madame Mao was ultimately convicted as a member of the Gang of Four and committed suicide in prison, the operas have recently regained popularity with the younger generation, who see it as a marvelous mixture of high and low culture. They are performed again and are now also available in Karaoke versions in the Chinese Supermarket. Exquisite original film segments from the Yang Ban Xi, combined with interviews with those who played in them at the time and contemporary performances, open a window into present-day urban China and its burgeoning cultural scene, and make for a visually striking and captivating film.

Sunday 28th December

Please vote for me
a film by Weijun Chen

Wahun is a city in China the size of London where an experiment in democracy is conducted. At Evergreen Primary School, a grade 3 class learns what democracy is when an election for class monitor is being held. Three children are chosen by the teacher as candidates and they have a few days to campaign and convince their classmates to vote for them. The little candidates are seen at school and at home, where their parents do their best to make sure their child will win the election.

Up the Yangtze
a film by Yung Chang

In the largest engineering project since the Great Wall, China has set out to harness the power of the Yangtze, an endevour that provides the epic and unsettling backdrop for a dramatic and disquieting film on life inside the Chinese dream. Among the two million losing their livelihood to the dam, are the Yu family who must now send their daughter off to work. In a bitter irony she's been hired into a strange apocalyptic tourist trade that thrives along the river, offering a glimpse of a legendary world before it disappears forever. Stunningly photographed and beautifully composed, Up the Yangtze juxtaposes the poignant and sharply observed details of Yu Shui's story against the monumental and ominous forces at work all around her. Where Western passengers take in the spectral views, consuming entertainment on the spacious upper decks, while Yu Shui toils in the galley down below, vying with workmates for the few permanent positions./>