Up the Mountain / Huo shan
Director Yang Zhang makes his documentary film debut with a portrait of a remote mountain village in the Chinese province of Yunnan. Like in many traditional communities, here too, young people migrate to the cities to make a living. This small village, however, is unusual for it has its very own art school created by an artist from Shanghai. With one important exception, the school is attended by the older village women.
“Is not the pastness of the past the more profound, the more fairytale-like, the more immediately it falls before the present?” asks Thomas Mann in his preface to The Magic Mountain. In Zhang’s "Up the Mountain", present and past directly meet, and the fairytale-like nature of the story produces wondrous moments. Depicting the village life and the surrounding nature, he creates images of dreamlike beauty that echo the pictures of the elderly art students. Yang Zhang is an excellent storyteller who documents everything with a subversive irony that is aimed as much at the observed as the observer.
Yang Zhang was born in 1967 in Beijing, China. He graduated from the Director's Department of the Central Theatre Academy. His works, including romantic drama (SPICY LOVE SOUP, 1997), road movie comedy (GETTING HOME, 2007, FULL CIRCLE, 2012) and powerful drama (SUNFLOWER, 2004, SOUL ON A STRING, 2016), achieved great recognition internationally. His films premiered and won awards at acclaimed festivals such as San Sebastián IFF, Berlin International Film Festival, Stockholm FF and Tokyo IFF. In recent years, Zhang Yang has moved into docu-mentary film making, with PATHS OF THE SOUL (2015) as his first feature documentary, which premiered in Toronto IFF.