Jan 26, 2020

Sweep Away Hungry Ghosts (Zhang + Knight, 2020)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼

Zhang + Knight (the moniker of Linden Feng and Hannah Palumbo) emerge from the world of music videos most of which share the exceptional art direction. Prime example of their talents is Projector - a loving homage to both Hopper and Turrell created in collaboration with the Irish musician EDEN (Jonathon Ng) who provided a brooding score for their short Sweep Away Hungry Ghosts. At its core is an off-kilter and dialogue-free ghost story that revolves around a young man (portrayed with gentle humility by Takuro Hama Cheung) who 'struggles to come to terms with his deceased father's transvestitism'. The contrasting themes of traditional Chinese filial piety and shifting gender roles are tightly and skillfully interwoven into the soft tapestry of the moody, deliberately paced narrative imbued with a sense of mystery.

Gorgeously shot in a boxy aspect ratio by Ruben Woodin Dechamps, this stunning little film reflects Zhang's unfulfilled desire to become a classical oil painter in virtually every frame, whereby Knight's dream of an opera singer career can be sensed in the unhinged, delightfully theatrical performance by Ken Mai who embodies the father's ghost. Meticulous visual compositions of deep shadows bring to mind many masters of cinema, from Yimou Zhang to David Lynch to Takashi Miike, yet they come off as fresh, not to mention awe-inspiring in their delicate beauty. Dominated by fiery reds which blur the boundaries between the living and the dead, they make you yearn for more, so the up-and-coming duo of Zhang + Knight is one to keep an eye on.

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