“If you look at ancient Chinese culture, and depictions of it, the relationship between people and nature was very different. It almost felt as though feelings were always attached to a certain landscape.” – Jia Zhangke
Renowned for his focus on Chinese people’s daily lives and experiences, Jia Zhangke reflects the realism of an era through his films. He was awarded the Golden Lion award at the Venice film festival for his 2006 film, Still Life.
Jia’s film aesthetics significantly differ from that of the Fifth Generation. Instead of pursuing gorgeous metaphors, Jia focuses on restoring life phenomena by capturing the invisible state, psychology, emotion, and society of people’s lives in a marginalised state. Through Jia’s films, an inner truth can be felt. A kind of humanistic emotional care and affirmation of small people thrives, visually presented through whitewashed cinematic shots of houses, streets, clothing and pop songs. The beauty in Jia’s work is his ability to screen the living conditions of his protagonists in an authentic way.
Jia unpicks the bustling world and its struggles to find the hidden light of humanity. Interestingly, when watching Jia’s films, it is clear that humans have made the most significant contributions to society and yet have unfortunately suffered the most. The social and moral alienation in the process of modernisation is imaginatively and realistically depicted in Jia’s work.
Jia’s films' narrative ethics are far more complex than simplified and single-valued sociological judgments on the world. Instead, Jia explores the vague, ambiguous, complex, and ambiguous areas of existence where another reality is hidden. This potential existence and reality rarely enters the public consciousness, magnifying the audience's individual experience and spiritual journey through the cracks ignored or abandoned by the mainstream.