Filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke. Photo: Irene Cho

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Several stories make up A Touch of Sin, the latest film from Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke. With Sin, one of the more acclaimed films of this year's Cannes Film Festival, the director is tackling an issue that has become a hot topic at this year's festival.

“I hope to use this film to help me think about violence and also let everyone re-think about it,” Jia Zhang-ke said yesterday, sitting outside the Grand Hotel here in Cannes for a conversation about his new movie.

Based on real events, Jia Zhang-ke's A Touch of Sin looks at the impact of violence and human loss amidst the Chinese economic boom. It includes stories set in different regions of the country, rural and urban alike. But the director—well known among cinephiles for his recent films 24 City, Still Life, The World, Unknown Pleasures, and numerous documentaries—feels that his new film also addresses the issue internationally.

“In A Touch of Sin, there are four individual stories,” Jia Zhang-ke detailed during yesterday's conversation. “It seems that they are four unique stories but actually between them there is some kind of linkage. I think it’s not only a story about China but it is also related to every person in the world.”

Scene from A Touch of Sin.

“My film is based on real stories,” Jia Zhang-ke told FilmLinc's Daily Buzz. “Actually, these stories have gotten quite a lot of news reports in the past, but it could be forgotten very soon because there’s always some new other kind of news that comes up. So, if we do it with a film, we can have time to re-think about it. And so we can have some energy to make things change.”

Earlier this week, during a press conference, Jia Zhang-ke said that the rise of Chinese violence has him worried. “I thought it was necessary to talk about this in a film,” he explained. “Why does an ordinary individual suddenly start to act in a very violent way?”

Jia Zhang-ke explained that his use of violence in this new film is not unlike the use of violence in martial arts films in past generations.

“Have human beings really changed from the time of martial arts?” he asked during the recent Cannes press conference. “Probably not,” he answered, adding: “In quite a lot of martial arts films it is also about society. I say that it is a kind of political film.”

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