Shanghai International Film Festival 2018, L’Étrange Festival 2018
Among the shoe-creatures, the gender lines are brutal and absolute. The females are to be confined to breeding pens, their offspring snatched from them and maimed. This cruel ritual of masculinization is grooming for the degrading grind of factory life awaiting the new shoes. But now an aberrant incident has frayed the fabric of this uncanny ecosystem. A lethal flash of desperation liberates a female shoe-creature, but her freedom is illusory. Assuming the outward appearance of a male, she must insinuate herself into the harsh realm of the factory, to survive, to resist, to perhaps escape – for surely something better must exist?
Blowing wide open the closet doors of the collective unconscious, Zhou Shengwei’s startling stop-motion fairy-tale S HE is a scissor-sharp indictment of the patriarchal-industrial complex, constructed entirely out of clothing and common objects. Composed of almost 60,000 photographs and over a half-decade in the making, SHE is an inspired, one-of-a-kind creation, its bravado art direction, eruptive colour scheme and unsettling, onomatopoeic sound design certain to stain the memory cells of those daring enough to dive in. Fantasia’s animation programming gives pride of place to unique visions in stop-motion, and to the rising new voices in independent Chinese animation, making Zhou’s SHE a perfect fit. Hilarious, horrifying, darkly erotic and fiercely polemical, this one’s gonna rock your socks off. – Rupert Bottenberg
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