Cast: David Rysdahl, Li Meng, Mason Lee, Vivian Wu, Yang Haoyu, Zazie Beets
Best Ensemble Cast, World Dramatic Competition, 2018 Sundance Film Festival
Winner, New Director’s Competition, 2018 Seattle International Film Festival
Old village grandmas play on VR sets. Huge replicas of Spanish cathedrals are built for luxury apartments. Staff members of a beauty parlor shout, “I am talented! I am unique!” as they punch the air vigorously with a determined thumbs-up. The corroding effect of capitalism in modern China takes decidedly bizarre turns in Cathy Yang’s explosive and comical debut.
DEAD PIGS follows five characters whose stories intersect around money. From a salon owner whose motto is “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones,” to a Minnesota architect who moonlights as a fake CEO, and a jaded rich girl whose friends send a clown to express condolences after a car accident, they navigate the impact of China’s rampant development on everyday lives. Will they make it through with humanity intact, or will they end up as just another soul sold to swim with VR sharks and live by a fake cathedral? Meanwhile, a sudden plague of pig deaths leads to thousands of carcasses dumped into the river, begging a deeper question: what happens to all that money can’t, or won’t buy?
A zany, dark, and sometimes musical movie, DEAD PIGS announces a spectacular talent in the Chinese American Cathy Yan, whose dynamic sense of character and color has landed her a gig directing the new Harley Quinn movie. Without making light of the real implications of China’s current situation, Yan shows the absurd nature of this glitzy new world — one that, under the glow of its neon pink facade, churns black and greedy. Ultimately, Yan ends with a glimmer of hope: in the struggle to discover that money may not buy happiness, we just might find each other.
– Yang Jiang
Co-Presented by: 21st Century China Center