East Palace, West Palace
Time Out saysThe most daring and achieved of all the 'illegal' independent films made in China in the '90s - and quite probably the last, since it prompted the Film Bureau to formally outlaw unauthorised production and confiscate Zhang Yuan's passport. A-Lan, a young gay man, is arrested in a Beijing cruising park and held for overnight interrogation by Shi, a macho but latently ambivalent cop. As he describes his life since childhood and his sexual history, it becomes clear that his stories are actually expressions of his desire for the cop. This realisation makes Shi more aggressive. The film is an intense chamber drama with large resonances: its ultimate implication is that the bond between the people and the authorities in China is essentially a sado-masochist one. This is the closest cinema has ever come to the spirit of Jean Genet, closer even than Genet's own Chant d'amour.