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When Night Falls, directed by Ying Liang

3.5 out of 4 stars

When Night Falls
Directed by
Ying Liang
South Korea / China

When Night Falls is based on the true story of Yang Jia, a young Chinese man accused, convicted and ultimately executed for "an intentional killing" in the summer of 2008. But where the exact truth lies is a matter of great ambiguity. Initially, Yang is arrested and beaten for riding an unlicensed bicycle on the outskirts of Shanghai. He makes repeated complaints about his treatment, but the police continue to harass him. Then, one day – according to the official account – Yang walks into a police station and methodically kills six police officers with a knife. Yang's story is told from the perspective of his mother, Wang Jingmei (in a heartbreaking performance by Nai An), who claims to have evidence that would prove her son's innocence. But before she can present that evidence at trial, she is promptly shipped off to a mental hospital, where her name is changed; she is released only days before Yang's execution. Director Ying Liang captures the perfidy of the Chinese justice system with austere brilliance and, in what is perhaps the ultimate tribute to his impact as a filmmaker, now faces arrest if he ever sets foot in his homeland.

Oct. 1, 1:15 p.m., Granville 6

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