Films: Takashi Murakami, Jellyfish-Eyes, one the five feature-length films in Art Basel Hong Kong. Film still courtesy Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co. Ltd
HONG KONG- More than 70 films by and about artists will be part of this year’s Art Basel ambitious Film Program in Hong Kong. From March 21 to March 26, 2016, art lovers will get to see an amazing selection of short films that allow insights into the lives of artists and their creative process. Alongside the selection of short films, the Art Basel Film program will also include for the first time five feature-length films. Curated once again by Beijing and Zurich-based multi-media artist and producer Li Zhenhua, the event is expected to be an impactful experience for art lovers.
One of the five feature-length films this year’s Art Basel in Hong Kong is The Chinese Lives of Uli Sigg (2016). The film is having its Asian premiere at Art Basel. Directed by Michael Schindhelm, the documentary film reconstructs the adventures of the entrepreneur, diplomat and art collector during his 30 years in China. Often described as the most influential collector of Chinese contemporary art in the world, Uli Sigg was a complex man and lonely man. In The Chinese Lives of Uli Sigg, Schindhelm tries to unravel the mysteries surrounding him and what shaped his life. The film investigates the unique story of how the life of a Swiss man, through chance circumstances, became embroiled in the history of China after Mao’s death.
Also premiering at Art Basel Hong Kong is Zeng Fanzhi: YOU Art Project (2014 – 2015). Directed by Shi Li-Sanderson and Philipp Stölzl, the film closely examines the practice of distinguished Chinese artist, Zeng Fanzhi. The film provides a deep understanding of the artist’s painting process over the last 12 years under the concept of ‘YOU,’ which in Chinese indicates the highest attainment of freedom. With a reflection on the practice of academic research and interviews, Zeng Fanzhi: YOU Art Project reveals how the artist found his path to freedom. The screening at Art Basel is an edited version of the original 73-hour long film.
The history of South Africa will again be at the forefront when 10 Drawings for Projection, (1989 – 2011), a series of ten animated films by William Kentridge is presented. Drawn over a period of 22 years which are for the most part set in his home city of Johannesburg, the film links the past to present South Africa. Although the timeline covers South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy, 10 Drawings for Projection is not about political events. Instead, the saga traces a different and parallel arc – the character Soho Eckstein’s gradually awakening from a capitalist blockhead to a sober penitent.
Takashi Murakami’s Jellyfish Eyes (2013) is expected to be one of the major attractions at the this year’s Art Basel in Hong Kong. The film which continues to get rave reviews for its production and story line torches on the impact of nuclear power and energy. Borrowing from the Fukushima catastrophe in 2011, Murakami reminds us of disasters on children. In a tale set in a small village in the Japanese countryside, Murakami’s brightly-colored fictional characters interact with humans in the most compelling ways that give the movie authenticity. In Jellyfish Eyes, children are the victims and heroes as the make effort to save their fictional world from a disaster.
Poet on a Business Trip (2014), is an intriguing film that art lovers to this year’s Art Basel in Hong Kong will find captivating. Written, directed and cinematographed by Beijing-based underground filmmaker Ju Anqi, the low-budget black and white follows a poet on a business trip. After years of commitment to his craft, Shu, a poet who has never been on a business trip, decides to send himself on a 40-day train journey, crossing the whole of Xinjiang, China. This a thought provoking film. The metaphorical title of the film presents an ineffable absurdity and satire.
While the five feature-length films appearing for the first time are expected to captivate audience, the short films will be equally entertaining. The selected films for the Short Films Program explore six diverse themes. some of the artists include Adel Abidin, John Akomfrah, Tony Albert, Martha Atienza, Breda Beban, Will Benedict, Chang Li-Ren, Chen I-Chun, Chen Qiulin, Chen Szu-Han, Chen Yin-Ju, Cheng Ran, and Tiffany Chung among many others.
The feature-length films will be screened at Theatre 2 within the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), while the Short Film Program will be screened at the agnès b. Cinema at Hong Kong Arts Centre.