Director Walter Salles plunges straight in from frame one with his subject in Jia Zhangke, A Guy From Fenyang, a very personal study of Sixth Generation Chinese director and writer Zhangke.
The natural narrative of the film journeys organically through Zhangke’s movies in relevant interwoven snippets as he visits old haunts and muses on his family life, experiences and national history – all of which have shaped his filmmaking choices.
It is clearly made with love by Salles, but satisfyingly avoids any sycophancy. Whilst reasonably engrossing for the casual viewer, those already familiar with Zhangke’s films will gain more from this piece.
Salles’ low-key documentary reflects nicely on Zhangke’s own personal, handheld style. Although an engaging subject matter for those already interested, a little assumed knowledge does prevent its being totally accessible.
DIRECTOR: Walter Salles
SYNOPSIS: A journey with Chinese director and screenwriter Jia Zhangke through his films and around the Shanxi province where he grew up, and which had great influence over his career and work.