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Annual Top Films Lists

Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2015: #10. Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart

Mountains May Depart

Director: Jia Zhangke // Writer: Jia Zhangke

A preeminent figure in the Sixth Generation movement of Chinese cinema, Jia Zhangke is arguably one of the most renowned auteurs working in cinema today. Famously independently producing his early works, such as Pick Pocket (1997), Platform (2000) and Unknown Pleasures (2002), which were considered underground films, Zhangke was given unprecedented approval for his 2004 film The World (2004), which found the director’s domestic and international renown expand, leading to one of his most celebrated titles, 2006’s Still Life, which took home the Golden Lion at Venice. His next film, 2008’s 24 City was less well received, and Zhangke focused on documentary projects (including the 2010 title I Wish I Knew which premiered at Cannes in Un Certain Regard). Zhangke saw his most notable acclaim yet with 2013’s A Touch of Sin, which took home Best Screenplay at Cannes, depicting four tales of violence ripped from modern day headlines. Known for his long takes and subject matter revolving around the alienated youth and increasingly restless agitation of the working class in contemporary Chinese culture, often with a direct affect of globalization to be taken into account, his works are often non-linear and episodic. In Spring of 2014, Zhangke announced he would be making his first film outside of China, Mountains May Depart, which jumps through place and time from contemporary China to a futuristic Australia. Starring wife and muse Zhao Tao, it begins in the 1990s, the movie follows Tao and Dong, a young couple in love. Tao later leaves Dao to marry a wealthy mine owner. On his deathbed Dong meets Tao again; she is divorced and her son is exiled in Australia. The story jumps to Tao’s son in Australia in the year 2025. The only word of Chinese he still remembers is his mother’s name.

Cast: Zhao Tao

Producuers: Shozo Ichiyama, Shanghai Film Group, MK2

U.S. Distributor: Rights available.

Release Date: Production was initially announced as beginning in October, 2014. After Zhangke’s 2013 Cannes win for Best Screenplay, we’d imagine this title would snag him his fifth slot at the fest, perhaps fourth time in competition.


Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.


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