The stunning thing about Tian Zhuangzhuang's 1993 film is not that it was banned (nor that Tian was banned from filmmaking for eight years), but how it ever came to fruition in the first place.
Revolving around the lives of a young mainland woman and her son through the 1950s and 60s, this 21/2-hour film is a scathing critique of how the People's Republic bled its people dry of hope and humanity during anti-rightist purges, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Compared to similar-themed (and banned) productions from around the same time - Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concubine for example, or Zhang Yimou's To Live - The Blue Kite is less melodramatic but it's exactly that which makes the film such a harrowing chronicle of those horrible times.
The film's three chapters are titled for father figures who influence the formative years of the film's young protagonist, Tietou: the biological father who is sent away to a labour camp; the 'uncle' who succumbs to illness in the hunger-stricken days of the Great Leap Forward; and the intellectual stepfather who dies at the hands of the Red Guards.
Nearly two decades after its appearance on the film festival circuit The Blue Kite remains blacklisted on the mainland.
The Blue Kite, Dec 9, 7.15pm, Dec 10, 4.35pm, Broadway Cinematheque