Hidden down a set of stairs in what was formerly a basement noodle shop, music and art venue Fruityspace’s subterranean location means that its regular Wednesday and Thursday film nights are literally underground cinema. Cinephiles expecting the newest transgressive fare will be disappointed, however; the movies are often drawn from Mainland China’s neglected film history.
The selection is eclectic, ranging from '50s propaganda films to the new wave of Mainland cinematic social critique and experimentation in the '80s. 'I just show any movies that I like,' says organiser Zhai Ruixin, who expresses a particular fondness for '60s films from the West as well as Chinese films from the '80s and '90s. Previous screenings have included overlooked classics like Ning Ying’s droll police anti-thriller On the Beat (pictured) and Huang Jianxin’s bureaucratic sci-comedy Dislocation.
'I discovered there are a lot of old movies that have been forgotten, but among those movies are some really great ones,' Zhai tells us. 'Just drawing from those older years, I gathered a big collection
of really cool older movies and documentaries by downloading them or finding some of them on YouTube.'
While most of the movies may be available in one form or another online (particularly if you’re willing to dig around on Chinese video-streaming sites), there’s real value in being able to see a carefully chosen selection of them in a communal setting. Even Zhai himself admits that there aren’t many young people interested in these films now, so the screenings at Fruityspace represent a rare chance to catch hidden gems on a screen larger than your laptop.