A Marble Travelogue

Countries: The Netherlands, Hong Kong, France, Greece

Year: 2021

Genre: documentary

Director: Sean Wang

Duration: 99 minutes

Blocks of white marble from a Greek quarry are shipped to China, where sculptors turn them into Hellenistic-style statues and columns. The leftover grit is processed into fridge magnets and other souvenirs, which are returned to Europe and sold to Chinese tourists.

With a light touch and wry humor, the Chinese-Dutch documentary A Marble Travelogue portrays a chain that runs from capital to manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and consumer. The film makes complex connections and highlights the European aspirations of the Chinese middle class in an unobtrusive but visually seductive style.

The Cloud in Her Room

Countries: Hong Kong, China

Year: 2020

Genre: drama

Director: Zheng Lu Xinyuan

Duration: 101 minutes

“Dreamlike”, “transitory”, “driftily disjointed” – reviewers have used these terms fittingly to describe Zheng Lu Xinyuan’s debut feature, The Cloud in Her Room, which follows Muzi (Jin Jing), an aimless 22-year-old university graduate returning to her hometown of Hangzhou, China, whose landscape has changed almost beyond recognition. Dialogue and narrative take a back seat to Zheng’s wistful investigation of mood in this black-and-white film, which pastes together scenes from ordinary domestic life and long, exacting shots exploring intimacy between characters and its inevitable dissipation. 

In between, dream-like sequences are inverted in infrared. The effect of A Cloud’s depiction of alienation, loneliness, and longing in contemporary city life is uncanny and almost fantastical. 

This seems to be what Zheng desired; in interviews, the filmmaker has expressly guarded against interpretation in favour of sensory experience, saying: “I don’t have a strong message to deliver. But I have a moment to share.”