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Only the River Flows

February 8, 2024

Only the River Flows

(Dir. Wei Shujun, 2023)

Preview screening + reception!


6:00pm (Reception)




NeueHouse Venice Beach
73 Market St
Venice, CA 90291

Yanai Initiative logo_edited.jpg
Yanai Initiative logo_edited.jpg

Join us for the 1st screening in our Lunar New Year film series, presented in partnership with NeueHouse and MUBI. There will be a pre-screening reception beginning at 6:00pm.

1990s small town China. A woman’s body washes up in the local river. The chief of police, Ma Zhe, is tasked with heading up the investigation. An obvious perp leads to a hasty arrest, though the mystery lingers in Ma Zhe’s mind. What kind of darkness is truly at play here? Director Wei Shujun’s murky throwback film noir, gritty, textured film grain captures the pulpy proceedings. Torrents of rain envelop the characters as they descend into madness in pursuit of the truth. Equal parts atmospheric tour-de-force and beguiling puzzler, Only the River Flows is a masterfully styled ode to a bygone cinematic era and a sharp-edged portrait of provincial paranoia. Official seleciton: Cannes, Viennale, BFI London Film Festival.

TRT: 101 min

"[An] enigmatic, progressively engrossing noir... Structurally inventive, if not downright format-twisting... The cinematography is genuinely star-making." —Fionnuala Halligan, Screen Daily

"It’s no secret that Chinese cinema has suffered artistically under Xi Jinping’s regime, even as it has reaped truckloads of money. Only the River Flows provides a very welcome sign of life." —Michael Sicinski, InReviewOnline

"Wei Shujun’s third feature offers a mix of dead-end detective work, doomed characters and surreal dreamscapes... What is not in doubt is his standing as one of China’s most complex cineastes." —Clarence Tsui, South China Morning Post

"A film noir that’s so vintage it comes wrapped in crackling celluloid and old cassette tapes. Written and directed by Wei Shujun, the movie is a puzzle-like homage to the noir genre itself, with echoes of Jean-Pierre Melville, Chinatown and Memories of Murder." —Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter

"Wei Shujun‘s inventive riff on Asian-noir gives the expanding subgenre something its Chinese contributions often lack: a pitch-black sense of humor. Humanizing quirks and flourishes abound, providing profundity [to] this rather touchingly melancholic portrait of small-town desperation." —Jessica Kiang, Variety

(Available to download after screening date)

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