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N I N A W U ( 灼人秘密 )
Cannes Film Festival, Un Certain Regard
☀ IN-THEATRE … June 12, 7 pm
☀ STREAMING ONLINE … 24×7 through July 25, 2021
103 min | Taiwan/Myanmar | R | In Mandarin with English subs
TWO WOMEN IN PERIL
One woman fights back, the other does not…
In our Saturday June 12 pairing we present the stories of two women in peril, and the differing ways they deal with toxic environments that affect not only their careers, but their sense of self, sanity and safety.
Daytime Writer, Nighttime Avenger…
THE COLUMNIST, set in the realms of social media, newspapers and book publishing, provides a subversively comedic take on a person who turns the tables on her abusers, going overboard in her pursuit of retribution.
The Price of Success…
NINA WU, about systemic exploitation in the entertainment industry, was inspired by the real-life experiences of its star and screenwriter. To revive a failing career, how far will a struggling actress go in an environment controlled by ego, power and sexual predation? Does the quest for success require sacrifice of one’s self-respect?
In both films, the underlying themes of vulnerability, exploitation and toxic environments are universal, offering ample ground for post-film reflection and discussion. You can watch the films separately or as a double-bill on Saturday at the Garfield.
Sosena Erco will join Margaret and Timothy Swallow for post-film discussion after the screenings.
ABOUT NINA WU
NINA WU is a tale of power and control, a psychological thriller about the compromises and subjugation women face in the film industry. Instead of a monolithic “#MeToo” approach, the film incorporates elements that impact real people who deal with workplace exploitation as part of their life journey – mental and emotional stability, lifestyle preferences, family situations, etc.
Prompted by unsavory exploits from the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Chang Tso-chi, Doz Niu and Luc Besson, NINA WU star and co-screenwriter Wu Ke-xi began writing the story of a wannabe actress so desperate for her chance of fame that she would put herself through anything. Building on some of her own experiences, in the film she gives a gripping performance of a woman’s descent into the dark, hellish world of the movie business where conditions on the set with a bullying director imperil her physical safety and already tenuous mental state.
In the film-within-a-film storyline, NINA WU contrasts the lead character’s desire for success with her acceptance of a questionable script and increasingly deplorable conditions during filming. It also introduces sexual orientation and family issues that add to her mounting stress as the film progresses.
More like the psychic deterioration seen in Mulholland Dr. and Black Swan than the prettified retribution in Promising Young Woman, NINA WU transcends #MeToo and #TimesUp memes to examine the role of forced complicity versus victimhood in the story. Under Midi Z’s direction, the sexual harassment and other abuses experienced by Nina in the film reflect the reality of what some desperate and vulnerable people routinely experience when predators abuse their power. In the end, NINA WU presents a haunting indictment of systemic exploitation in the entertainment industry – not just in Asia, but world-wide.
About the Director: Born to Chinese parents in Myanmar, and now working out of Taiwan, director Midi Z (Zhào Déyìn) and actress Wu Ke-xi collaborated in four of his prior films over the last decade. Together, the director and his muse have pursued a solid identity as their cinematic efforts strive to capture the exploitation of the vulnerable, ranging from struggling workers in his home country to the entertainment industry in his adopted Taiwan.
WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW MUCH
In-Theatre & Virtual Cinema Information
☀ Live, at the GARFIELD THEATRE:
NINA WU, director Midi Z (Zhào Déyìn), Taiwan/Myanmar/Malaysia, 2019, 103 minutes, in Mandarin with English subs. Starring Wu Ke-xi. Offered alone and as part of a double-bill including THE COLUMNIST.
THE GARFIELD THEATRE, 719 Race St., Cincinnati, OH 45202.
Saturday, June 12, 7:00 pm. With Saturday double-bill option, including THE COLUMNIST.
Single Tickets are $10, discount Saturday double-bill tickets are $16. Tix are sold in advance only, available on this webpage via the In-Theatre Tickets button, and by phone at (859) 957-3456.
ADA Access, Covid Safety Protocols, Terms of Purchases, etc., are described here: CWC POLICIES & FAQ.
☀ Online, in the CWC VIRTUAL CINEMA:
Both THE COLUMNIST and NINA WU are available for streaming separately and as a two-film package. Single film tix are $10, the two-film package is $16. Tix are sold in advance only, available on this webpage via the Virtual Cinema Tix button, and by phone at (859) 957-3456. Available to rent through July 5, with each film, you have 30 days to start watching and 7 days to complete once you begin.
ACCOLADES & REVIEWS
“Nina Wu is a powerful and bitter critique of the degradation perpetrated against vulnerable women in the ‘entertainment industry,’ and the long psychological shadow it casts over them.”
— Andrew Blackie, FilmInk
“Critic’s Pick! …startlingly evocative, complex and confrontational…. Like “Mulholland Drive,” a clear touchstone, “Nina Wu” grows increasingly disjunctive as beguiling, eerily sensual incursions from a jealous rival rattle the actress. At the same time, cinematic illusion is rendered indistinguishable from reality with rug-pulling that feels genuinely shocking.”
— Beatrice Loayza, The New York Times
“Wu is great in the lead role, bringing real depth to the character despite her frequent silence and submission to the men around her. Traumatic memory is a powerful thing and Midi Z’s slippery plot digs out its roots, with this bold and tragic take on consent and abuse.”
— Tom Bond, One Room with a View
“The star of this psychological thriller, Wu Ke-Xi, is also the screenwriter of the picture, a vividly disorientating #metoo themed drama. It’s clearly a personal work: Wu has drawn upon her own experiences as a young and vulnerable actress within the film and television industries for a story which gives a powerful account of the post-traumatic stress suffered by the victims of powerful and unscrupulous industry insiders.”
— Wendy Ide, Screen Daily
“Nina Wu harrowingly damns a system that thrives on the trauma and suffering felt by women like Nina, and the way it drives and pushes them over the edge just to satisfy the desires of abusive male directors and producers. It also shows how the successes achieved by many of these actresses, the smiles and congratulations that come after the undignified treatment, are forever tainted by irreparably scarring experiences. The fact that the lead actress Wu Ke-Xi co-wrote the film certainly helps giving it a strong sense of raw and blunt truth, also felt in her bold and courageous performance.”
— Pedro Serafim, Film Era
“Wu Kexi turns in a rivetingly brittle, vulnerable performance, navigating her own co-written script with absolute conviction, while Midi Z, formerly best known for works of social realism, luxuriates in ornamenting this psychodrama with hyperstylized noir flourishes. DP Florian Zinke’s color-blocked camerawork is sinuous and prowling….”
— Jessica Kiang, Variety
“The central desire of the co-writer and star is to vividly present Nina’s humiliation, disgrace and pain in order to plainly communicate what untold numbers of women have gone through to get somewhere in show business. It’s a ferocious, driven performance.”
— Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
“Wu, who wrote the screenplay, remains utterly compelling throughout — deeply troubled with plenty of mood swings — while leaving the source of her angst a mystery.”
— Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight
“…impressive, both contextually and visually.”
— Panos Kotzathanasis, Asian Movie Pulse
“Traumatic memory is a powerful thing and Midi Z’s slippery plot digs out its roots, with this bold and tragic take on consent and abuse.”
— Tom Bond, One Room with a View
“NINA WU is a gut punch. Recommended.”
— Steve Kopian, Unseen Films
“A stylish psychological thriller in the vein of Mulholland Drive (2001) and Black Swan (2010). The semi-autobiographical story (partly inspired by Wu’s own experiences, as well as the stories linked to the #MeToo movement) is written by the film’s luminous leading star Wu Ke-Xi, and it tackles the darker side of the film industry and the hefty price some must pay for stardom head-on. The story may be a stylised, enigmatic mix between reality and fantasy, but Z and Wu’s take on the subject is a candid one, pulling no punches and taking no prisoners.”
— Niina Doherty, Diabolique Magazine
“Wu Ke-Xi … gives a fantastic performance as she endures harassment–-both subdued and appalling––as an actress mounting her breakout role.”
— Jordan Raup, The Film Stage
“[I]t’s Wu’s staggering, in-your-face lead performance and her character’s shifting range of emotions — along with the context for those emotions — that add so much depth and shock value. Nina Wu isn’t just a “#MeToo thriller” or “slow burn cinema,” it’s a progressive spin on psychological horror and a master class in visceral visual design.”
— Q.V. Hough, Vague Visages
“Ke-Xi Wu carries this film. She gives a powerhouse performance as Nina.”
— Victoria Potenza, Movie Jawn
“Nina Wu is a painful and powerful film, with a bold style and striking performances, telling a story that looks at the pressures and abuses to succeed in a cut-throat industry. Watch it.”
— Watch or Pass
“Wu, who also serves as co-writer, is astonishing in her dexterity and ability to evoke the confrontational as certainly as the desolate.”
— Sarah-Tai Black, Los Angeles Times