Running as part of this year’s DOXA festival, Wild Grass: New Chinese Images takes its name from a popular image in Chinese literature that highlights the virtues of wild grass, an unglamorous yet resilient plant that survives in the harshest of environments.
In Haze and Fog, one of the most formally challenging entries in the five-film series, the urban middle class plays the metaphorical role of the wild grass, eking out a sad existence in a bleakly phantasmagoric environment.
According to filmmaker and artist Cao Fei, growing class divisions and the westernization of Chinese identity foster this surreal habitat.
“The whole system, life and country, is being distorted,” Cao said in a Skype call to the Straight, adding that this distortion is changing the way in which people relate to each other and the world around them. Ultimately, she argues, isolation is what fuels the zombie apocalypse depicted in Haze and Fog.
“The film wants to discuss that the people, even before they turn into zombies, are walking dead,” Cao said.
Haze and Fog screens at the Vancity Theatre on Tuesday (May 5).