Director Lu Chuan, who was last at TIFF in 2009 with his stunning City of Life and Death about the Battle of Nanking, returns with an opulent, period epic about the fall of the Qin Dynasty nearly two millennia ago. Viewers less versed in ancient Chinese history should at least read the festival’s program notes beforehand, for Chuan not only delves deeply into the history of key events, but also how the written records of those events have been manipulated, glorified and scandalized over time. Given how much Chuan plays with the chronology of warlord alliances and feuds, depicted here as scattered bits of memory, there is a major assumption that viewers are already well versed in the basic overall story. Even if they aren’t, the larger theme of winners ultimately getting to write history is richly detailed, as are subtle critiques of modern empires, i.e. the domination of the Han People and contemporary Communist China.
Sunday Sept. 16, 12:15 p.m., TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
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