VIFF 2018: Yellow Is Forbidden

New Zealand

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      An engrossing primer for the Vancouver Art Gallery exhibition about to open here, Yellow Is Forbidden is more than a documentary about a fashion designer.

      On one level, yes, it’s a colourful look at the plucky, driven Guo Pei as she breaks into Paris’s snooty haute-couture circles. Along the way, we get compelling looks at her family and home—even her incongruous teddy-bear collection. We also peek inside her unglamorous workshop, where women spend thousands of hours embroidering her beyond-extravagant gowns. But the film also stands out as a study of the global rise of China, tracing Guo’s upbringing amid the Cultural Revolution all the way to Shanghai elite dropping hundreds of thousands at her private studio. New Zealand director Pietra Brettkelly’s camera makes sure to caress every luxurious fold, stitch, and crystal along the way.