This film intends to show for the very first time a classic piece of Chinese art : the painted roll “City of Cathay”, property of the Taipei National Museum.
The masterpiece was originally made in 1118 by the painter Zhang Zeduan for the Nothern Song dynasty Emperor Huizong. The one the film will explore is a far-better achieved copy, realized six centuries later by a collective of five painters for the Emperor Qian-long. It depicts on eleven meters of silk daily life in the capital city of Kaifeng with such accuracy in small-scale details that the parchment remains today a memory treasure. This particular copy stands out because its five authors had been influenced by western artistic ideas such as perspective technique, and that they had applied it to their landscape compositions. Also, the parchment is designed to be looked at like a real fiction movie, containing thousands of miniature sceneries all representative of daily life in ancient Chinese society.
This is why the director Alain Jaubert explores this “giant miniature” by focusing on chosen scenes and associates them with relevant quotes from nowadays’ documentaries. This way of describing the parchment will highlight on-going customs that have persisted throughout centuries, or define by contrast the differences between traditional and modern Chinese society.
Official Selection, FIFA Montreal 2012
Official Selection, International Festival of Archaeological Film (Rovereto, 2011)