With one fifth of the world's population, the People's Republic of China literally has billions of stories to tell. Rice University's Asian Film Festival investigates four of them. China's latest film darling is Jia Zhangke, whose underground films The Platform and Unknown Pleasures drew international acclaim. He's represented at the festival by The World, a warmly ironic look at the displaced youth who work at World Park, Beijing's surreal, miniature theme park. If you toil among the Pyramids, Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower, have you really seen the world? Wei Te-Sheng's lovely Cape No. 7 from Taiwan, an audience favorite no matter where it's screened, features six misfits who create a pop band to win a regional music competition. It's filled with tiny, just-right gestures and lovable losers. And Hu Jie, with Though I Am Gone and In Search of Lin Zhao's Soul, documents Mao's unbelievably brutal Cultural Revolution in two fierce memorials to innocent lives needlessly murdered. Their crimes? Lin Zhao was a poet, Bian Zongyun a teacher. The World screens at 7 p.m. Friday, Cape No. 7 at 7 p.m. Saturday, and Though I am Gone/In Search of Lin Zhaos Soul at 7 p.m. Sunday. Rice University Media Center, 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-4853 or visit www.ricecinema.rice.edu. Free.
Fri., Oct. 2, 7 p.m., 2009