Swimming out till the Sea Turns Blue
In May 2019, a large number of prominent Chinese writers and scholars gathered in a village in China’s Shanxi Province – which happens to be Jia Zhang-ke’s native province. Images from this literary event open an 18-chapter ‘symphony’ which spans the history of Chinese society since 1949. The story is told through memories of the late writer-activist Ma Feng and the testimonies of three major writers who are active today: Jia Pingwa (born in the 1950s), Yu Hua (born in the 1960s) and Liang Hong (born in the 1970s). These writers recount their own lives and literary careers, which allows the film to weave a 70-year spiritual history of the Chinese people.
Ten years after his last documentary I Wish I Knew (screened in Un Certain Regard, Cannes 2011) Jia Zhang-ke returns to non-fiction with Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue, the final panel in his trilogy about the arts in China. It follows Venice winners Dong (2006), and Useless (2007).