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FOREIGN MOON

SYNOPSIS:
Lan Lan dreams of a life of freedom in the West, but when she arrives in London, finds her Chinese sponsor had ulterior motives for her - as his sonís wife. She strikes out on her own and is eventually befriended by Su Tong, an older Chinese man, whose wife and son are waiting in China for a visa to join him. Su Tongís flatmate Deng Lin is a younger, more restless man, and the frictions in lifetsyle accentuate the dislocated migrants. But Lan Lan survives and Su Tong tries to trim his friendship so it avoids the problems of romantic love for Lan Lan, while Lan Lanís life drifts closer to the fortune that life had written for her.

"One of the most striking visual aspects of Foreign Moon is the way Zhang Zeming has shot London: perhaps itís the outsiderís view, perhaps itís his wish to view the city in the kinder light of the sun, but with only one grey, rainy scene, he has dismissed the coldly overcast Mike Leigh view of the city. And it works on two levels: visually it is a refreshing change to see a London (in autumn) where the weather is not hired as a mood setting character - BAD mood setting character. Secondly, it provides a satisfying backdrop for the emotional journey of the central character, Lan Lan, in that we are not concerned with trying to imagine a lotus blossom China that she has left behind. That refreshing approach is no doubt the result of this being the first Fifth Generation film to be made outside China. The title is taken from the saying Ďthe foreign moon is rounderí; but as it turns out, the grass is not greener on the other side. Freedom can be frightening, as Lan Lan discovers. The cultural context makes this an intriguing film, for its characters as well as its gentle ironies. (The migrant experience was the subject of Australian director Clara Lawís 1996 feature, Floating Life; how vastly different the two films are, albeit both by Chinese filmmakers.) With its eloquent but dialogue-free ending that juxtaposes three telling scenes, it is a moving work. Foreign Moon, despite an energy and plot slump in the middle, maintains interest and should appeal to cinephiles with sophisticated palates."
Andrew L. Urban

"Foreign Moon is an enchanting reflection of a cross of cultures - a warm and human story about Chinese characters finding their way in a far land coloured by a different culture and language. Zhang Zeming has captured intriguing complexities in his Chinese characters, but very much from the foreignerís point of view. It is indeed strange seeing all the familiar signposts of London, with its red double decker buses, and English accents, amid the ornate Chinese subtleties within the sub culture that UKís Chinatown offers. How people of one culture group together in sections of the community is something found universally, and it is always fascinating to see how such people can actually manage to live without necessarily even learning the language. Vicky Chen Hsiao-Hsuen makes a wonderful Lan Lan, naÔve and innocent with an appealing vulnerability; Harrison Liu has an immediate, solid appeal, and Chen Da Ming offers the cockiness of Deng Lin to perfection. The proximity in which the three central characters live highlights their many differences and needs. The film is an insightful observation into the human condition with engaging characters and the development of their relationships sensitively and subtly expressed. Itís a warm, reflective and heartfelt film dealing with love, compassion, hope, disappointment and making realistic decisions. There is enough hope to please the romantics; enough pragmatism to engage the sceptics. The performances are complex and satisfying; itís a gentle cinematic experience, that will not only entertain, but bridge the cultural chasm between East and West."
Louise Keller

"Seeing Foreign Moon, one has the distinct feeling that somehow we've seen it all before. Immigrants coping with the harsh realities of a Western existence are a common filmic theme by expatriate filmmakers and there's little doubt that this movie is based, in part, on Chinese director Zhang Zeming's own experiences in London. Though the film has its moments, it's a very predictable and meandering film, that moves along lazily trying to deal with these disparate characters' lives, yet not in a wholly satisfying way. The film's main strength is the casting of unknown young Chinese actress Vicky Chen, alluring, innocent, beautiful and fragile, she's a haunting presence in the film. But overall, Foreign Moon lacks conviction, skirting the edges of the problems Zeming explores, and resolving them all too neatly by its unsatisfying conclusion. There are flashes of soulful beauty here, but a beauty that is, regrettably, skin deep."
Paul Fischer

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ZHANG ZEMING INTERVIEW

FOREIGN MOON (M)
(China)

CAST: Vicky Chen Hsiao-Hsuen, Harrison Liu, Chen Da Ming

PRODUCER: Ma Fung-kwok

DIRECTOR: Zhang Zeming

SCRIPT: Zhang Zeming

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Iu Lik

EDITOR: Paul Hodgson, Xu Jian ing, Wong Ming Kwong

MUSIC: Brian Lock

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Haibo Yu

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

ENGLISH & MANDARIN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 23, 1997

AWARDS:

Best Original Screenplay - Golden Horse Award, Taiwan Film Festival

Nominated for: Best Film & Best Actor - Taiwan Film Festival

Winner: Best Director - Zhu Hai Film Festival

Nominated for: Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress, Best Cinematrography - Zhu Hai Film Festival







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