Qiu Jiongjiong and A New Old Play

Qiu Jiongjiong’s A New Old Play (2021)

Chinese artist and filmmaker Qiu Jiongjiong was only two when he began painting and three when he first performed Sichuan opera. In the mid-1990s, he left school at the age of eighteen to pursue his art, and in 2006, he bought a mini-DV camera and began shooting documentaries. When A New Old Play, his first fictional feature, premiered in Locarno last summer, it won a Special Jury Prize, and before the film begins its tour of North American theaters at Anthology Film Archives on May 20, the National Museum of Asian Art will present an online retrospective. The Daring, Innovative Films of Qiu Jiongjiong will be freely accessible from this Friday through May 29.

“Without formal cinematic training, Qiu started as a fearless eccentric, creating experimental documentaries with the series of effervescent, slyly humorous family portraits,” writes Shelly Kraicer in the introduction to the program he first put together for Rotterdam earlier this year. Qiu “cuts rapidly but always legibly between different materials and times in his six documentaries, with a darting, cheerfully voyeuristic handheld camera that captures striking black-and-white images. Sound and image are often provocatively decoupled; Qiu underlays these elements with traditional Sichuan opera and contemporary art music.”

In 2016, Kang Kang spoke with Qiu for the Brooklyn Rail about Mr. Zhang Believes (2015), which blends fiction and nonfiction to tell the story of Zhang Xianchi, a young communist who turned his back on his nationalist father to join the People’s Liberation Army—but was nonetheless tossed behind bars for more than two decades during the Anti-Rightist Movement of the 1950s. “Shot in color and de-saturated into a surreal black-and-white,” writes Kang in the introduction to his interview, “Zhang’s first-person account of the revolution devouring its own children is transformed by Qiu’s highly stylized set and sound design, Brechtian amateur acting, and contrapuntal editing into a dizzying shadow play of figures and objects—herein lies a profane illumination of sorts, coinciding with the elderly Zhang’s eventual coming into consciousness.”

You have no items in your shopping cart