Barkadahan in SPRING FEST Film
By Jude Bautista
Two women realize that Xu Jiangning was cheating during a mahjong game. Out of pure rage they start slapping him silly, to escape them he bolts out the door. He runs fast for a middle-aged man going through different obstacles. The women corner him in an abandoned alley. The only way out is a precarious climb on to a ledge. Xu climbs easily and sits on the ledge as the women throw rocks not being able to reach him. His brother in law Guilin catches up with them and offers to pay the women 30 RMB. The women leave but Guilin still needs to convince Xu off the ledge.
The scene is so funny and absurd it sounds more like a Tito Vic and Joey movie or Enteng Kabisote sequel. But it’s from PIANO IN A FACTORY, screening at the 7th SPRING FILM FESTIVAL in Shang Cineplex for free from February 1-10, 2013. There are also Chinese action flicks and JASMINE WOMEN starring Zhang Zi Yi and many more films you can watch for free.
Guilin played by Wang Qianyuan is just like any other guy going through a divorce. The interesting role has won him Best Actor at the Tokyo International Film Fest. He plays in a band for hire that performs everywhere, funerals, street corners and yes, even weddings. His instrument is the accordion and the occasional duet with the lovely Shu Xian (Qin Hailu). He accepts the fact that he has grown apart from his wife Xiao Ju (Jang Shin Yeong). But can’t allow her to take custody of his daughter Xiao Yuan (Xing Yu), who just happens to be a piano prodigy at age 8. If there’s anything that Guilin has given her it’s his devotion and passion for music and she took to it immediately.
Xiao Ju has found a more financially successful man. Xiao Yuan wants to stay with Guilin as long as she can go on playing the piano. PIANO IN A FACTORY is the struggle for Guilin to fulfill this need. The film is a very accurate slice of life in China. Guilin’s barkada or group of friends tries to help him with the task. His brother in law Xu who cheats in mahjong is just one of many hilarious characters. One is named Fat head and a mafia-like boss named Brother Ji. The story is similar to the Filipino’s Bayanihan spirit or concept where everybody chips in to help a friend in need.
It just so happens that they are in one of the industrial areas of China where steel is a prevalent material. Resourcefulness and ingenuity is key as the group realizes that building their own piano is the best solution to their problem. Although the city and location is very crucial to the story, nowhere in the film was it mentioned, not even once.
From the opening shot of the film there were two huge smokestacks in the background of Guilin’s band while playing a funeral. They are two huge chimneys that are so wide and tall they call to mind nuclear reactors. Whether they’re nuclear or not was not really clear, only that they’ve become landmarks because of their age. Thank God for YouTube, I was able to identify the pair of smokestacks in a NO RESERVATIONS episode shot in Harbin. It was the episode where host Anthony Bourdain gets ‘drunk under the table’ by Russians and goes ice fishing on a frozen river the very next morning. The smokestacks make an appearance in his train ride on his way to a ski resort.
Harbin was occupied and even built by the Russians some time in its history. No surprise, PIANO IN A FACTORY uses a lot of Russian music as a soundtrack. Engineer Wang (Wang Qianyuan) the designer of the piano consults a Russian text. Food also plays a part in this film the barkada gets together over hotpot at home, grilling and sautéing meat right on the dinner table. Guilin’s best friend Kang Mei (Tian Yu) is a chef who feeds them. It also doesn’t hurt that Big Liu (Zhou Kui) is a butcher. Will the fruit from their labor of love bring together a father and his daughter?
SPONSORS list: Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, Confucius Institute, Ateneo Celadon, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Credit Suisse, Film Development Council of the Philippines, Limketkai Center, ChaTime, Richprime Global Inc., CitisecOnline Financial, Chevrolet, Flexo Marketing, Raphyten Marketing, Lyric Piano, Baby Mossimo Kids, First Estan Trading, Teresa Marble, Footzone Greenhills,
In cooperation with Educational organizations: Xavier University, Ateneo de Cagayan University, Sacred Heart School- Ateneo de Cebu, Ateneo de Davao University, University of San Carlos, Ateneo de Ilo-ilo- Santa Maria Catholic School, And the other FDCP venues are Baguio, Davao, Iloilo, and Marawi cities’ Cinematheques.
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