Acclaimed Chinese auteur filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke has set “We Shall Be All” as his next feature directing project. It is his first in the five years since his “Ash Is Purest White,” which premiered in Cannes in 2018.
Describing the project as a “dismantling of dystopia,” Jia says that the new film is set across the first two decades of the 21st century and tells the story of how a Chinese woman lives to herself in silence, celebrating the prosperous Belle Epoque with songs and dance.
Some 22 years in the making, the film’s first elements were shot as far back as 2001. The balance will be filmed later this year. No release schedule has been indicated.
The film is co-written by Jia and Wan Jiahuan, a pairing that previously worked together on Jia’s 2020 documentary film “Swimming Out Till The Sea Turns Blue.”
It will star Zhao Tao, who is both a highly acclaimed actor and Jia’s wife. She has appeared in all of Jia’s fiction films since 2000 film “Platform.” Zhao won the best actress prize at the David di Donatello Awards for her leading role in the Italian film “Io Sono Li,” directed by Andrea Segre. For her performance in Jia’s “Ash Is Purest White, she was awarded the Silver Hugo for best actress in Chicago and the best actress prize at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in 2018. Her dance performance to the tune of “Go West” in Jia’s 2015 film “Mountains May Depart” is a highlight of contemporary Chinese cinema.
The new film will be produced through Jia’s Xtream Pictures by Ichiyama Shozo and Casper Liang Jiayan. Ichiyama is currently program director at the Tokyo International Film Festival and has been a producer on all of Jia’s feature titles since “Platform.” Liang has worked with Jia since his 2008 effort “Useless” and has additionally been associate producer on “Swimming Out Till The Sea Turns Blue,” and an performer in “Ash Is Purest White.” Additionally, she is the CEO of the Pingyao International Film Festival, the indie festival in Jia’s home province that the director co-founded.
Jia is arguably the most influential filmmaker in China’s indie scene and has been both in and out of official favor at different times in his career.
Nearly all of his works – features and documentaries – chart some aspect of China’s headlong charge to modernization and its consequences. After “Swimming” he told Variety that he is interested in remembrance that can be passed onto younger generations. He sought the juxtaposition of memories from both more uneducated farmers and highly articulate writers that “together could give a picture of the full experience of Chinese society.”