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2018 PYIFF Dailies: Blood Ties in “Dear Son” & “Cities of Last Things” | Day 3

2018 PYIFF Dailies: Blood Ties in “Dear Son” & “Cities of Last Things” | Day 3

We’re still in time adjustment mode here at the Pingyao Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon Int. Film Festival but we managed to pack in a trio of festival offerings in an early morning showing of the Director’s Fortnight selected sobering Dear Son, a mid day public screening of the inventive The Pluto Moment by Zhang Ming (also a Fortnight selection), and a late night preem for the intransigent Cities of Last Things (TIFF Platform winning fifth feature by Malaysian born Taiwanese bred filmmaker Ho Wi Ding).

Not offering any guidance into the “why” of the matter, a port city acts as backdrop for the disenfranchised and the worn out in a father-mother-adult son family structure. Tunisian filmmaker Mohamed Ben Attia focuses not on the ISIS exodus portion of the equation but rather the undercurrent of guilt of those left to ponder: where did I go wrong? This sophomore feature (also going by the title of Weldi) is a non-showy effort where the film’s most cathartic moment is a kitchen exchange between two men…one who has been there, and the other, who not unlike his son making a poor life choice, has also lost his way.

2018 Pingyao Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon Intl. Film Festival Dear Son

I managed to miss the pair of screenings for Manta Ray, but was on hand for Programmer Jeremy Chua introducing helmer Phuttiphong Aroonpheng – who saw his film premiere in Venice in the Orrizzonti section winning top honors there.

2018 Pingyao Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon Intl. Film Festival Manta Ray

Unlike some of his more popular counterparts, I’m not as familiar with Fifth or is it Sixth Generation filmmaker Zhang Ming, but from what I read The Pluto Moment continues along the lines of his previous opaque and puzzle-like films and in the planetary set-up vis-à-vis earth, is the most mysterious due to its distance.this sees a small production team scouting locations as the aimlessly find their connecting points. Shuffling between characters, there is a subtext about the male/female gaze that works well under the film within a film curriculum and shared artistic ambition of the grouping. Whatever the motivations are here for Ming, the elliptical nature of the film is its selling point.

More on Cities of Last Things tomorrow.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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