Mr. Zhang Believes
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    Mr. Zhang Believes

    Directed by



    135 min

    • Mandarin


    Qiu Jiongjiong’s brilliant fiction-documentary hybrid is based on the life of Zhang Xianchi, a so-called ‘rightist’ persecuted for his unorthodox beliefs. But Qiu turns it into something extraordinary: a mixture of first-person testimony, filmed theatre, historical fantasy, and social realist drama, interspersed with vivid surreal tableaux.

    Born into a Nationalist Kuomintang family in the 1930s, Zhang became a progressive young ‘leftist’ and Communist Party supporter, after betraying his Nationalist father. Zhang joined the Communist Youth League and attended military college. Two years later, stigmatised by his family background, he lost his job and turned to journalism. In 1958, he was sentenced to five years’ re-education through labour.

    Qiu’s sharply photographed black-and-white images transmute Zhang’s story to a mythic theatrical scale, where intimate, heart-breaking family drama, and the historical (Chairman Mao and Generalissimo Chiang make cameo appearances) mutually resonate. Incisive political cinema and essential viewing.


    Labels & Line Ups


    Cai Yifan
    Zhang Xianchi
    Jimmy Zhang
    Ma Xiao'ou
    Qui Jiongjiong
    Peng Fan
    Diao Lili
    Jiongjiong Qiu

    Jiongjiong Qiu


    In a dark room, a screen brightens. A shape, like a drunken magician, summons creatures large and small to their places, where they stretch and settle. Just before the light fades, they evaporate, like clowns smiling faintly or making faces. That's the kind of film I like to make.

    QIU Jiongjiong (born 1977) is an active contemporary artist and filmmaker in China. His work as an artist has been exhibited worldwide. As a filmmaker, his experiments with cinematic language and aesthetics in documentary film-making have earned him a reputation as one of China's most important independent directors. His experimental/documentary feature MR. ZHANG BELIEVES (2015) premiered at Locarno FF and has been screened internationally. A NEW OLD PLAY (2021) is his first fiction feature and won the Special Jury Prize at Locarno FF.

    Selected Filmography