I am what I am

Saturday 24 September 2022 and Sunday 25 September 2022 In competition by SUN Haipeng (China, 2021) 104' V.O. with Italian subtitles   A grand epic of friendship and life, the film was named animated film of the year by the China Film Art Research Center. As opposed to Chinese animations, which often depict traditional tales, I Am What I am tells the story of three teenagers from the South, left behind in their home village, Guangdong, by their parents who have emigrated to Canton, the largest coastal city in southern China. The three are left to their own devices and are teased and bullied daily by a group of peers. But the boys have a dream: to learn an ancient cultural tradition, the Lion Dance (Wu Shi Zi in Mandarin, the language of the film). Ah Juan, the protagonist, meets a girl who knows how to do this dance very well and gives him a mask so he can perform. He decides to gather his group of friends to form the world's most improbable Lion Dance troupe. Even more unlikely is the coach they find, Xian Yuqiang, a once promising star in the dance world who now lives a very humble life, working as a fishmonger. The group thus embarks on the impossible mission of preparing for the biggest competition in the country, but just when their dream seems within reach, harsh reality complicates things. "Always remember: when you hear the drumbeat echoing in your heart, you become as strong as a fierce lion". The dance, in fact, is accompanied by music that includes a drum, very important throughout the performance because it beats the rhythm and dictates the movements the lion has to perform, as well as two cymbals and a gong. The film is a continuous rollercoaster of ups and downs, excitement and defeat, sadness and joy. Until the last moment the boys' fate is uncertain, suspended between tragedy and victory. A melodrama in the perfect style of contemporary Chinese cinema, which uses animation to further enhance the dance scenes. The film, much appreciated by critics and audiences alike, has had a controversial aftermath on social media, as the characters are said to have somatic traits that are too realistic, particularly in the features of the eyes, which are small and elongated, considered an expression of Western aesthetic prejudice and racist colonialism. The controversy is part of a general picture of the Chinese film industry, where 'political correctness' is dominating over the general judgement of a cultural product.

Saturday 24 September 2022 - Cinema Arlecchino, 5 pm

Sunday 25 September 2022 - Cinema Arlecchino, 10 pm

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