Archive of films Black Coal, Thin Ice / Bai ri yan huo

China / Hong Kong
2014, 106 min

Section: Horizons
Year: 2014

Five years after a fatal shootout, Detective Zhang returns to an investigation that involves numerous mysteries and a highly attractive noir setting. At this year’s Berlinale this distinctive, genre-bending movie took the Golden Bear and Best Actor prizes.


The investigation of a bizarre factory murder forces Detective Zhang into a shootout in a barbershop from which he escapes with his life but is unable to continue working as a cop. On the inside, however, he never stops being a detective, so it’s no surprise that five years later he decides to investigate a conspicuously similar case on his own. All clues point to a femme fatale working at a small dry cleaners, but Zhang falls for the suspicious woman, thereby threatening the investigation. Designed with a consuming noir atmosphere of lowlife movie theaters and ramshackle streets, the film presents distinctive characters in an unrelenting game of dangerous liaisons. At the same time, this intriguing genre contribution allows itself to comment on the situation in contemporary China. The director is adept at both witty condensation and at holding aloof from the fatalistic shadings of a film which mediates an exceptionally rich experience. His influences can be seen in both Alfred Hitchcock style classics and traditional Hong Kong fare.

About the director

Diao Yinan

Diao Yinan (b. 1969, Xi’an, China) graduated in literature and screenwriting from the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing (1992). He has made a name for himself mainly as a screenwriter (e.g. for the films of director Zhang Yang) and author of avant-garde plays (A Fastrunner or Nowhere to Hide and Comrade Ah Q). In 2003 he tried his hand at acting, cast by Yu Likwai in the independent picture All Tomorrow’s Parties, which screened at Cannes. He debuted in direction with Uniform (Zhifu, 2003), earning praise at the festivals in Vancouver and Rotterdam. His next film, Night Train (Ye chen, 2007), was presented in Cannes’ Un certain regard section, then secured distribution in many countries. The crime drama Black Coal, Thin Ice, which took the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale, is the director’s third feature and he takes writing credits as well.


Fortissimo Films
Van Diemenstraat 100, 1013 CN, Amsterdam
Tel: +31 206 273 215
Fax: +31 206 261 155
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Horizons
Director: Diao Yinan
Screenplay: Diao Yinan
Dir. of Photography: Dong Jinsong
Music: Wen Zi
Editor: Yang Hongyu
Producer: Vivian Qu, Wan Juan
Production: Omnijoi Media Corporation Co., Ltd.
Coproduction: Boneyard Entertainment China, China Film, Jiangsu Omnijoi Movie
Cast: Liao Fan, Gwei Lun Mei, Wang Xuebing
Contact: Fortissimo Films


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