(OF SHADOWS)

影 (OF SHADOWS) film poster

Yi Cui

China/Canada, 2016

80 min, Colour, Mono

“captivating [...] a moving dispatch on the imperilled existence (and stubborn endurance) of a wondrous artistic tradition”

‑Chris Kennedy (TIFF Cinematheque)


“dreamlike and amusing, [...] the film reflects on the schizophrenia of contemporary China”

Brigitte Duzan (Chinese Movies)


“with this feature debut, Cui shows a remarkable sense of contemplation, composure, and control in depicting her subjects’ struggle to keep abreast of social changes.”

‑Clarence Tsui (Film Quarterly)


“full of imposing vitality”

‑Ling Zhang (Ta Kung Pao)


“a thoughtful meditation on the evolution of an ancient art”

‑Caotide (L’emergere Del Possibile)


“subtle and timeless”

‑Mónica Delgado (DesistFilm)


“my favourite Chinese documentary of the year”

‑Wood Lin (FunScreen)

Filmed in China’s Loess Plateau, where shadow plays have entertained people and deities for centuries,  Of Shadows follows a lively and resilient group of shadow play performers as they navigate between the rural staging of ancient plays and the urban spectacle of cultural heritage preservation. While providing a rare glimpse into the nomadic lives of master puppeteers, the film paints a haunting portrait of a revered folk tradition transforming against the backdrop of a country in constant transition.

Awards and honours

2017    Jury Special Mention, Cinemistica Festival, Granada, Spain

2016    Libraries Award, Cinéma du Réel, Paris, France

            Nominee, Joris Ivens Award, Cinéma du Réel, Paris, France

            Nominee, Bright Future Award, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands

            Nominee, FIPRESCI Prize, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands

            Nominee, Netpac Award, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands

            Nominee, Chinese Documentary Award, Taiwan International Documentary Festival, Taiwan

            Nominee, Best Canadian Documentary Award, Doxa Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver, Canada


Screenings (selected)

2018    Screening series “Scene as Universe”, Zarya Centre for Contemporary Art, Vladivostok, Russia

            Ba Li Shan Independent Film Screening Series, Bishan, China

2017    Los Angeles Chinese Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA, USA 

            Festival of Film Festivals, Seoul, South Korea

            Cinemistica Festival, Granada, Spain

            Meet the Director - Independent Film Series, Hong Kong University, Hong Kong, China

2016    International Film Festival Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands

            Cinéma du Réel Film Festival, Paris, France

            The Free Screen, Toronto International Film Festival Cinematheque, Toronto, Canada

            Doxa Documentary Film Festival, Vancouver, Canada

            Taiwan International Documentary Festival, Taipei, Taiwan

            Lima Independent International Film Festival, Lima, Peru

            La Rochelle Chinese Film Festival, La Rochelle, France

            Rennes Comptoir du Doc Film Festival, Rennes, France

            Korean Educational Broadcasting System International Documentary Festival, Seoul, South Korea