An Elephant Sitting Still (大象席地而坐)
$12 General Admission
Sure to be remembered as a landmark in Chinese cinema, this intensely felt epic marks a career cut tragically short: its debut director Hu Bo took his life in October 2017, at the age of 29. The protagonist of this modern reworking of the tale of Jason and the Argonauts is teenage Wei Bu, who critically injures a school bully by accident. Over a single, eventful day, he crosses paths with a classmate, an elderly neighbor, and the bully’s older brother, all of them bearing their own individual burdens, and all drawn as if by gravity to the city of Manzhouli, where a mythical elephant is said to sit, indifferent to a cruel world. Full of moody close-ups and virtuosic tracking shots, An Elephant Sitting Still is nothing short of a masterpiece.
“… a masterwork of a rare sort, perhaps of a unique sort, among young directors … His aesthetic sensibility—strong, fierce, integral, relentless—is itself an act of resistance. His vision of the specific agonies of life in present-day China conveys a mighty, universal human despair.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“An Elephant Sitting Still unfolds like a frozen cross between Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia and Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin (complete with the light flourish of magical-realism that marriage would lead you to expect)” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“An act of solemn, disciplined and passionate protest.” – New York Times
“Hu paints a picture of existential malaise with such a fine-tuned control of mood, imagery and pacing that the end result resembles a marriage of Jia Zhangke and Béla Tarr.” – Screen Daily
“The film’s images extricate beauty from the most dismal of situations and together with his actors, all of whom deliver performances of astounding sensitivity…” – Sight and Sound