Release year: 2005
Run time: 85 mins
Film type: Fiction
In China, the advent of affordable video cameras and editing programmes has made it easier to make video features about ordinary people and the underclass. Produced on no budget, these films are all the more authentic for it: they are simple stories that can be regarded as a kind of barometer of changing norms and values that report on the changing country with themes reminiscent of nineteenth-century writers like Dickens and Dostoevsky. This also applies to the film Barbecue, based on a newspaper clipping. The word “barbecue” in Chinese can mean restless, anxious and suffering, adjectives that the director also regards as applying to the characters in his inevitable essay on the poor and poorer, love and lovers, crime and criminals. Wang Quan and Liu Jinglei, who like so many others try to earn their living in Beijing with their hands, see the Spring Festival approaching rapidly but don't have a penny to spend. They see the answer in kidnapping and blackmailing a prostitute; after all, she can't go to the police. So, they order a call girl, He Dandan, and after having sex with her, they demand money. But Dandan doesn't have any money either, so her family has to transfer some. In the meantime, Jinglei becomes increasingly fond of Dandan. She manages to persuade him to let her go. Wang Quan, however, has other ideas.
Born in Heilongjiang Province in 1976, Geng Jun has directed and written many films. These include: Hawthorn (2002); Diary in Bulk (2003); Barbecue (2004 Festival of Three Continents, 2005 International Film Festival Rotterdam); Youth (2009 Rome International Film Festival); and The Hammer And Sickle Are Sleeping (2013 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival Best Short Film winner). He also directed Poetry And Disease (2011). In 2017 his film Free and Easy was screened at Sundance, where it won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematic Vision.