Winter Vacation

Han jia

“I don’t use humour to bring a bit of happiness into the lives of others. My humour is because I am deeply depressed.” — Li Hongqi, Cinema Scope

Director: Li Hongqi
Year: 2010
Country: China
Running time: 91 mins
Censor Rating: M - offensive language
Genres: Drama

Screenplay/Editor: Li Hongqi 
Producer: Alex Chung
Photography: Qin Yurui
Production designers: Qin Yurui, Yi Xiaodong
Sound: Guo Rn’ru
Music: Zuoxiao Zuzhou, The Top Floor Circus

In Mandarin with English subtitles


With: Bai Junjie, Zhang Naqi, Bai Jinfeng, Xie Ying, Wang Hui, Bao Lei, Bai Xiaohong, Zhi Feng, Jiang Chao

Festivals: Locarno, London 2010; Rotterdam, New Directors/New Films 2011

Golden Leopard (Best Film), Locarno Film Festival 2010

‘Like South Park in slow motion’ quipped writer Mark Peranson, Li Hongqi’s mercilessly deadpan comedy charts the endless boredom of the last day of winter School holidays in a depopulated industrial settlement in remote Inner Mongolia – and the even more profound absurdity of the first day back in class. — BG

“Li Hongqi has slowly been perfecting his style of drop-deadpan humour with philosophical underpinnings: a kind of minimalist sitcom-Kafka, Kaurismaki-cum-Jarmusch blend that is as mesmerizing as it is hilarious. With Winter Vacation, he hits the bullseye. The mix of slacker teens and semicomatose adults is perfect; with precociously world-weary little children thrown into the mix… The ‘action’… is punctuated by offbeat chants and a song by China’s most radical independent musician, Zuoxiao Zuzhou. Did we mention that the film was, also, oddly, unnervingly beautiful?” — Shelly Kraicer, Vancouver International Film Festival

“No other director can touch poet-novelist Li Hongqi when it comes to deadpan studies of the raging emptiness of life in modern China… [Winter Vacation] shows nothing the Film Bureau could object to, but effortlessly demolishes every post-Olympics platitude about China’s ‘growth’ and quality of life. Shot in Inner Mongolia but set in some dark recess of the mind, it offers social realism as a protracted hallucination, underscored by avant-garde noises from Zuoxiao Zuzhou and The Top Floor Circus. Li says that he prefers audiences to laugh inwardly rather than out loud, but few will be able to restrain themselves in the face of some of these one-liners.” — Tony Rayns, London Film Festival

“The social commentary packs a real sting, and wrist-slitting ennui has never been funnier.” — Helene Wong, New Zealand Listener

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