Ten years after his last documentary, “I Wish I Knew” (screened in Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2011), acclaimed Chinese auteur Jia Zhang-Ke (“Ash Is Purest White,” “A Touch of Sin“) returns to non-fiction with “Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue,” the final panel in his trilogy about the arts in China. It follows Venice winners “Dong” (2006) and “Useless” (2007).
‘Sea Turns Blue’ debuted at film festivals in 2020, and as is usually the case, critics adored it. Zhang-Ke is constantly re-examining and revisiting the history of China. Film Comment has described him as the “preeminent cinematic chronicler of 21st-century China,” Narrated by three important novelists born in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s respectively, telling their own stories with literature and reality, “Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue,” weaves a 70-year spiritual history of the Chinese people. His films aren’t for all audiences, but they can be extremely poetic when they hit.
Here’s the official synopsis:
From master director, Jia Zhang-Ke (Ash Is Purest White, A Touch of Sin) comes a vital document of Chinese society since 1949. Jia interviews three prominent authors—Jia Pingwa, Yu Hua, and Liang Hong—born in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, respectively, and all from the same Shanxi province where Jia also grew up. In their stories, we hear of the dire circumstances they faced in their rural villages and small towns and the substantial political effort undertaken to address it, from the social revolution of the 1950s through the unrest of the late 1980s. In their faces, we see full volumes left unsaid. Jia weaves it all together with his usual brilliance. Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue is an indispensable account of a changing China from one of the country’s foremost cinematic storytellers.
“Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue” opens on May 28 in select theaters via Cinema Guild. Watch the new trailer below.