I Wish I Knew
Dir. Jia Zhangke. 2010, 125 mins. 35mm. With Hou Hsiao-hsien, Zhao Tao, Tony Leung Chiu-wai. “In our time, Hou Hsiao-hsien is the genius narrator passing down the memories of a nation through films.” (Jia Zhangke). A sneakily subversive documentary commissioned by the Shanghai World Expo, I Wish I Knew has the great mainland Chinese filmmaker (and Hou acolyte) Jia traveling from Shanghai to Hong Kong and Taiwan, tracing the history of the port city on the Yangtze—and, in effect the history of China—through personal reminiscences and cinematic testimonies, restoring information (and images) occluded or censored by the official Party line. Hou appears to discuss his experience making Flowers of Shanghai, while between sections the film returns to the refrain image of Jia regular Zhao Tao, a reproachful spirit seen wandering through the new World Expo Park.
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