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Screening: Silhouette/Shadow (Gao Xingjian, 2007) (runtime: 85 minutes)

Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square

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Film Screening: Silhouette/Shadow (Gao Xingjian, 2007)

Described by its maker as a ‘cinepoem’, Silhouette/Shadow (2007), the first feature-length film of Nobel Prize-winning writer, dramaturg and artist Gao Xingjian, is part documentary, part dreamscape. Made in the shadow of near-death experience following hospitalisation and life-saving surgeries in 2002 and 2003, it ruminates on Gao’s mortality and his creative practice as he produces Chinese ink paintings and rehearses and stages theatre productions such as Snow in August in Taipei and, fittingly, The Man Who Questions Death in Marseille. In Gao’s ‘cinepoem’, reality is art and death is life.

Gao Xingjian (b. China 1940) is the first Chinese-language writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. His novels Soul Mountain and One Man’s Bible and the short stories collected in Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather are acclaimed for their linguistic sensuousness and visual appeal. He is also an accomplished artist who has held 100 major exhibitions in various cities of Asia, Europe, and the USA. In 2015 his large 6-panel work The Awakening of the Consciousness was made a permanent display at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. As a playwright he had the honour of directing his own play Weekend Quartet at Comédie Française in 2003. The play was one of several he had first written in French and afterwards in Chinese. He wrote theatrical works with no indication of his Chinese background but he also wrote theatrical works that re-interpreted stories of ancient China, such as his large-scale Peking opera Snow in August that he directed both in Taipei and Marseille. Also an innovative filmmaker he has produced three transmedia films, Silhouette/Shadow (2007), After the Flood (2008), and Requiem for Beauty (2013). In January 2023, he was awarded the rank of Commander of the Legion of Honour by the President of France.

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