Friday 21 June 2019
Up the Mountain - film review
A group of women, mostly elderly, gather in the studio painting with artist Shen Jianhua in Dali, Yunnan Province.The studio is situated up a mountain with inspiring views of the nearby lake and surrounded by fields that are bright with wildflowers in the Spring and Summer. An ideal setting to spend time slowly painting, singing, eating together and gossiping, which is exactly what the women do. The vibrant paintings they create reflect the landscapes and animals around them and the events of the life of the local community. Alongside the women, a young man is also studying with Shen and is torn between staying and becoming a painter or marrying his girlfriend from another part of China and moving to the city with her.
In contrast to the mountainside studio, Dali itself is a busy, vibrant historical town which holds loud and exuberent festivals and attracts large numbers of tourists. The local costumes and architecture are very distinctive and beautifully shown.
This meditative film follows a year in the studio, documenting the events of the community, the festivals, a funeral, a wedding, the birth of a child and a litter of kittens. The women interpret all this in their canvases.
This is a wonderfully immersive film to relax into, enjoy its slow rhythm and be transported to the mountains of central China.
Up the Mountain is screening as part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival at 2020 Monday 24 June at Filmhouse and at 1810 Wednesday 26 June at Odeon Lothian Road. You can book tickets here.
You can read my earlier reviews from Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019, by following the links below:
Boyz in the Wood a group of teenage boys get lost in the Scottish Highlands.
2040 - can technology offer solutions to our current climate and ecological crises?
Bait - Cornish fishermen try to adapt to a changing world
How to Fake a War (on my Shapeshifting Green blog) what happens when a rock star decides to meddle in international affairs?
Farm Animals on Film - featuring The Biggest Little Farm - an inspiring story of the creation of a sustainable biodiverse farm in California, plus Vulture, an experimental film about farm animals.
Virgin and Extra: Land of the Olive Oil.
Chef Diaries Scotland: Spanish chefs the Roca brothers take the viewer on a culinary road trip round Scotland.
Disclaimer: I have a press pass for the film festival and attended a free press screening of these films.