An Unfinished Film (2024) Cannes Film Festival 2024

May 17th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Lou Ye | Cast: Ming Liang, Qin Hao, Mao Xiaorui, Xuan Huang, Xi Qi, Zhang Songwen | 105′

Do we need another film about the pandemic? Well, this new documentary/drama from Chinese director and his co-writer Yingli Ma certainly offers additional insight and will have its world premiere on 16 May 2024 at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, in the Special Screenings section.

Set in January 2020 it sees a film crew reunite near Wuhan to resume the shooting of a film halted ten years earlier, only to share the unexpected challenges as cities are placed under lockdown. The original film was never finished and remained frozen in time. But here what starts as an ordinary working day for a film crew soon develops into mayhem as Lou Ye and his co-writer blend a real sense of unease punctuated by poignancy and even humour as events unfold during Christmas 2019 and culminate in April 2020.

Naturally the pandemic offered dramatic potential to a vast array of dramas and documentaries, but unlike previous tragedies such the Second World War and the Holocaust all of us have lived through this latest world crisis and experienced it at the coal face, maybe even losing loved ones in the process. And those terrible memories of anxiety, desperation and even boredom all come flooding back when watching An Unfinished Film. Fascinating to see how the Chinese cope with the unfolding events and how the authorities perform, often with violence and draconian measures: and the Chinese public’s reaction is not as meek and obedient as the global image would have us believe.

What emerges here, as the film’s ultimate takeaway, is a story about ordinary people trying to get on with their lives in horrible circumstances: working, loving, dreaming, praying, suffering – and celebrating just like we all did during those fateful few years. @MeredithTaylor.


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