MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART (SHAN HE GU REN)
MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART is Chinese auteur Jia Zhang-ke's nostalgic depiction of his country; a place where the rigidity of old class order has been complicated by the recent introduction of capitalism. A transcontinental and multilingual epic that spans three time periods, this story about love and separation follows a single family and their efforts to keep up with the relentless march of progress over the span of a quarter–century. The opening, refreshingly set to the Pet Shop Boys' synth track "Go West," becomes a recurring theme as the family deals with increasing change, including that which brings them to the English–speaking world and into the future. In this vein, Jia makes graceful use of musical leitmotifs to sidestep traditional flashback clichés and maintain structural linearity. Yet even with the innovative use of mixed aspect ratios, formats and technologies, a clear longing for tenderness and common belonging remains. — Wonsun Choi
Jia Zhang-ke was born in Fenyang, Shanxi Province, China, and studied at the Beijing Film Academy. His films include 24 CITY (AFI FEST 2008), PLATFORM, STILL LIFE, A TOUCH OF SIN and MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART, which premiered in competition at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. This year the Toronto International Film Festival launched a new competition sidebar named after Jia's film PLATFORM.