[Haixian, 2001]
One of the first Chinese digital features, Seafood brilliantly recounts, with an arresting mixture of cynicism and humour, the shifting power relationships between a suicidal prostitute and a corrupt policeman. Seafood is the first film directed by Zhu Wen, one of the Rupture writers who became involved with the Sixth-Generation film-makers (see Sixth Generation (film directors)) when he wrote Zhang Ming’s In Expectation (Wushan yunyu, 1995; banned in China after receiving a prize at the Pusan Film Festival) and then collaborated on the screenplay for Zhang Yuan’s Seventeen Years (Guonian huijia, 1999), the director’s first ‘legal’ film, which was produced in collaboration with the studio system. The two executive producers of Seafood were Yu Lik-wai—a Hong Kong filmmaker who has collaborated with Jia Zhangke as his DP and producer since Xiao Wu (1998)—and the video documentary maker Wu Wenguang.
Both men are enthusiastic advocates of the use of digital media in independent/underground productions (see New Documentary Movement).
In the resort town of Beidaihe, desolate in winter, Xiaomei, a beautiful prostitute contemplating suicide after a failed love affair, is physically and sexually abused by a policeman intent on ‘saving’ her. Zhu Wen inserts some unexpected twists in the plot, with a double ending—one in the snow fields surrounding Beidaihe, another in a seafood restaurant where Xiaomei and a hooker friend attempt to swap a fake bill obtained illicitly in the brothel, and so on. Zhu’s masterful exploration of the sexual impasse, and his imaginative use of violence and vulgarity, turn Seafood into an idiosyncratic masterpiece.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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