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August 12–18, 2016

Chicago Premiere

Kaili Blues
(Lu bian ye can)

Film still: Kaili Blues Film still: Kaili Blues Film still: Kaili Blues


Best Emerging Director
Best First Feature
Locarno Intl
Film Fest
"Tranquil but enthralling"
  —Village Voice
"This import heralds an assured new cinematic voice"
"Dreamy, poetry-filled and prone to veering off on tangents, the picture teases viewers with such self-assurance it's difficult to believe the twentysomething director is a first-timer"
  —Hollywood Reporter
"This isn't standard art-cinema-approved social realism: it's a realer sort of realism... While it is clearly deeply embedded in contemporary [Chinese] culture, its poetry—not its politics—makes meaning"
  —Cinema Scope
"It's hard to emerge from this waking dream of a film without feeling the shock of the new"
  —Film Comment
Recommended "Boldly original"
  —Chicago Reader

Visual poetry and geography guide the viewer in Bi Gan's debut feature Kaili Blues, leading to reflections on memory, history, and dreams. Gan's fluid camera captures the mystical landscape in the subtropical province of Guizhou, following a doctor, Chen Sheng, as he embarks on a journey by train to find his nephew, who has been abandoned by his brother. On the way to Zhenyuan, Chen Sheng came across a place called Dang Mai, where time seemed to flow both forwards and backwards, the lives of the local people a complete mystery. At times, the camera leaves Chen to follow villagers and strangers, charting a cohesive flow of life in Guizhou as landscape and environment are given equal significance as the effect becomes both intimate and cumulative through a remarkable arsenal of stylistic techniques.

Kaili Blues is a visionary cinematic poem about the agonizing desire to displace the past but also to come to terms with it. The main character's emotions are intrinsically linked with the lives of the rural inhabitants, who are caught between a troubling history and an auspicious future, between their nostalgia and the turbulent changes affecting their country. This inaugural film from Bi Gan, a Chinese poet and filmmaker who's still in his 20s, is one of the most rapturously received movies of the year, which mysteriously interweaves the past, present, and future.

Directed by Bi Gan, 2015, China, 113 mins. In Mandarin with English subtitles.


  • Fri., Aug. 12 at 7 & 9:15 pm
  • Sat.–Sun., Aug. 13–14 at 5:30 & 7:45 pm
  • Mon.–Thurs., Aug. 15–18 at 7 & 9:15 pm
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$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation