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What We talk about When We talk about Sex

Zhang Zanbo

Release year: 2011

Run time: 30 mins

Film type: Documentary


It's late at night. In the dim light of a stuffy dorm room, two nearly naked men begin a lively conversation about sex. From the south to the north, ancient to modern, local to exotic, self to others, realistic to artistic—so wide-ranging and erotic are their topics that I can't resist jumping in at times from behind the camera.


Director biography

Zhang Zanbo is an independent filmmaker in China. He graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 2005 with a Masters degree, and later established Asymptote Films. Consistently focusing on individual dignity and living conditions in a rapidly developing China, his documentaries have won many awards at international film festivals. His work has been reported by and reviewed in such international media outlets as The New York Times, The Economist, National Public Radio, and NHK.

He is also a freelance non-fiction writer, published in Taiwan and mainland China. His book The Road in traditional Chinese was awarded “The Best Book of 2014” by The China Times. Later, Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou presented the 2015 TIBE Book Prize to the author and the book. At the end of 2015, the simplified Chinese version of The Road was selected as the best book in the Sina Good Book Prize. As the book provoked intense discussion in the media and among the general public after its publication in mainland China, it was banned and denied further sale and reprint after two months. The publishing house was severely punished because of its inappropriate publication of this book.

Director's statement

The sexual attitudes of Chinese men are so often marred by absurdity and obscenity; yet the mundaneness of life makes such fantasies indispensable for many.