"Ash is Purest White" is described by the French cultural magazine "Telerama" as one of the most anticipated films in competition.
It tells the story of a young dancer, Qiao, in Datong, in northern China's Shanxi Province in 2001, who is in love with Bin, a local gangster. Qiao will take Bin's defense during a clash between gangs and is sentenced to five years in prison. Out of prison, Qiao goes in search of Bin to start all over again.
At a press conference held on Saturday noon, Jia Zhangke told reporters he got the film's idea more than three years ago when he was classifying the videos he has been making since 2001 and found that Zhao Tao, his wife and favorite actress, was always there in the videos.
"I would like to make a film that tells about Zhao Tao's change from 2001 to 2018, and I could share my personal experiences through this film," he said.
After its premiere on Friday, "Ash is Purest White" drew massive positive opinions. Screen Daily magazine noted that "Jia Zhangke explored the evolution of China through the experiences of a woman released from prison". France Culture website praised the performance of "the formidable Zhao Tao", adding that "the film, a 17-year-long love story between two members of the underworld also showed the radical changes of contemporary China."
Le Monde newspaper said impressed by "the original way in which Jia Zhangke, eager for some time to confront the genre, grabbed the film noir... Beautifully destabilizing, poetic and dazzling, opaque and luminous at the same time, it will be one of his greatest films".
Chosen for the fifth time in the festival official selection, the 47-year-old Chinese film director and screenwriter won Best Screenplay Award in 2013 for his film "A touch of Sin" and was also a member of the official jury selection at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in May 2014, which was chaired by New Zealand director Jane Campion.
In this year's session, 21 films are competing for the Palme d'Or. The official selection list includes also "Everybody knows" by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, Italian Matteo Garrone's "Dogman", Japanese Kore-Eda Hirokazu's "Shoplifters", "BlacKkKlansman" by Spike Lee, "Under the Silver Lake" by David Robert Michell and Jafar Panahi's "Three Faces".
At a closing ceremony scheduled for May 19, Australian and Oscar-winner actress Cate Blanchett will unveil the list of the awarded. End