6 remarkable Chinese indie films to stream now

Check out some of the best independent films from burgeoning Chinese filmmakers in the past decade

Image: courtesy of Dongchun Films
It’s been a challenging year for movie lovers in Shanghai, particularly those who crave something a little less mainstream. Not only was the beloved Shanghai International Film Festival cancelled this year, but cinemas across the city have been closed since mid-March and were only reopened a little more than three weeks ago. To quench your thirst for some quality flicks, we’ve compiled a list of the best Chinese independent films from the most outstanding Chinese filmmakers right now. Read on to find out more.

Kaili Blues (2015) 路边野餐

Image: courtesy of Blackfin (Beijing) Culture and Media Company

Writer-and-director Bi Gan’s feature debut follows a country physician Chen Sheng, who journeys to the misty subtropical town of Dangmai in Guizhou Province to find his abandoned nephew. As Chen’s trip continues, his past gradually unfolds through his remorseful recountals of his early life as a gangster, broken family and experience of imprisonment. The film switches freely between the past and present and between memory and reality, which induces us to enter the protagonist’s foggy and dreamlike world. Kaili Blues brought Bi Gan global attention in 2015, establishing him as one of the most-known Chinese auteurs. 

Watch the full movie via Tencent Video or iQiyi.

Wangdrak's Rain Boots (2018) 旺扎的雨靴

wangdrakImage: courtesy of Youth Film Studio

Tibetan boy Wangdrak (Druklha Dorje) wants a pair of rain boots because he often trips over and falls in his old sports shoes on rainy days, and everyone in his class has them. With the family having no money to spare, he has to wait. Things don't go as planned when he finally gets his own pair. Heart-warming and poignant, the film is about remaining hopeful during difficult times – despite utter poverty, Wangdrak’s family and everyone in the village never stop pursuing a better future. 

Watch the full movie via Tencent Video or iQiyi.

The Crossing (2018) 过春天

the_crossingImage: courtesy of Wanda Pictures

Bai Xue’s first feature film follows the story of Peipei (Yao Huang), a 16-year-old girl living in Shenzhen but commuting to Hong Kong for school every day. To save enough money for her holiday to Japan, she joins a criminal gang that smuggles iPhones between Shenzhen and Hong Kong without realising the incoming risks. The Crossing has everything from teenage romance to thrilling car chasings. However, the filmmaker’s real interest is to capture adolescent impulsiveness and the underlying sense of estrangement for families who don’t feel they belong anywhere. 

Watch the full movie via Tencent Video or iQiyi.

All About ING (2019) 小伟

all_about_ingImage: courtesy of Midnight Blur Films

Based on the filmmaker’s personal life, All About ING tells a heart-wrenching story of Yiming and his mother Muling’s struggles with accepting father Weiming’s recent diagnosis of terminal liver cancer. In three chapters, each focusing on one of the family members, the film explores the mother and son’s growing frustration with their personal problems as Weiming’s health deteriorates. From the hustle and bustle of Guangzhou to a tranquil village from his father’s childhood, the film takes the audience on an emotional journey of loss, grief and finding courage in life. 

Watch the full movie via Tencent Video or iQiyi.

Angels Wear White (2017) 嘉年华

Image: courtesy of Perfect World Pictures

Vivian Qu's searing drama tells a chilling story about Mia (played by talented 13-year-old Wen Qi), a young girl who is the sole witness to the sexual assault of two young girls. Despite the vicious nature of the criminal act, it proves difficult to punish the criminal for multiple reasons. When lawyers finally track down Mia, her predicament prevents her from revealing the evidence, further complicating the case. Angels Wear White was nominated for Best Feature Film at the 54th Golden Horse Awards, where Vivian Qu won Best Director. 

Watch the full movie via Youku Video.

Old Beast (2017) 老兽

old_beastImage: courtesy of Dongchun Films

Zhou Ziyang's director debut in 2017 centres around Lao Yang (played by the 54th Golden Horse Awards Best Actor, Tumen), a once affluent man in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia, who has gone bankrupt for years. When the recent investments fail, Lao Yang finds himself on the brink of losing his wife and sons' trust. As he seeks every possible means to collect more money, irreversible conflicts between Lao Yang and his family break out. 

Watch the full movie via Tencent Video.