(Yi zhi you dao hai shui bian lan, Jia Zhangke, China 2020, 112 min., DCP, Mandarin w/subtitles)
From master director Jia Zhangke (Ash Is Purest White, A Touch of Sin) comes a vital documentary of Chinese society since 1949. Jia interviews three prominent authors—Jia Pingwa, Yu Hua, and Liang Hong—born in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, respectively, and all from the same Shanxi province where Jia also grew up. In their stories, we hear of the dire circumstances they faced in their rural villages and small towns, and the substantial political effort undertaken to address it, from the social revolution of the 1950s through the unrest of the late 1980s. In their faces, we see full volumes left unsaid. Jia weaves it all together with his usual brilliance. Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue is an indispensable account of a changing China from one of the country’s foremost cinematic storytellers.