China Behind

“(This film will) damage good relations with other territories (and) contribute to possible breaches of peace” – Hong Kong colonial government, banning China Behind

This is the first Chinese-language feature to confront the Cultural Revolution and the second art film of Hong Kong, made by the woman who directed the first. Tang Shu-shuen, who blazed the trail with The Arch (1970), burns another path with China Behind, the chronicle of an illegal crossing into Hong Kong from Cultural Revolution country.

She shrewdly treads the line between poignant emotions and visceral sensations, scurrying the escapees through their arduous odyssey with the urgency of thrillers and the pathos of poetry. So uncompromising is Tang that she ends the journey not with a comforting happily-ever-after but a shocking, sobering reminder. And so bold is the film that it was banned in Hong Kong for 13 years, not released until 1987, long after the Cultural Revolution.