Filmmaker Gives Voice to Acts of Rage in Today’s China

China has seen a series of bloody incidents in recent years, most recently including a string of bombings and several knife attacks. Some attackers have been driven by despair at land seizures, brutality, restrictions and other such issues: in these cases, the public’s response has often been marked by a surprising degree of sympathy for the perpetrators, even those who have killed as many as dozens of innocent people. Such stories inspired Jia Zhangke’s forthcoming film A Touch of Sin, in which he grapples with violence in China and people’s attitudes towards it. From Edward Wong at The New York Times:

, China’s most prominent art house director, had been preparing to make his first big-budget , set in dynastic China, when reality intruded in the form of the Internet.

Specifically, Mr. Jia discovered the world of Twitter-like microblogs, which many Chinese have been reading in recent years to get the unvarnished daily news and opinions that are all but absent from the state-run news media. He was bombarded with news from all corners of China, much of it tied to the crimes of corrupt officials or businesspeople: , land seizures, . In many of those cases, he said, frustrated ordinary Chinese had been provoked to commit acts of bloodshed.

“I slowly began to see the problem of individual in society,” the soft-spoken Mr. Jia, 43, said one recent afternoon in his office in northwest Beijing. “There are many tragedies or societal problems in which people in the end rebel, resulting in a very big tragedy. So I began to pay more and more attention to this problem, because, frankly speaking, I feel like Chinese people do not really understand the problem of because society has never had a widespread discussion of the problem.”

[…] “[A Touch of Sin] seems to me a response to an emergency,” comments Beijing-based film critic Shelly Kraicer. “Certain things need to be said, and need to be said directly, clearly, to as large, and as activated, a Chinese audience as possible.”

The film, which Jia says has been only lightly touched by the censors, is due for Chinese release in November.