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The Wild Goose Lake

Diao Yinan
Nan fang che zhan de ju hui
China, France 2019 / 113’
The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea

An edgy detective story by the winner of a Golden Bear for Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014). Five years later, Diao Yinan is back with another disturbing story about people submerged in social anonymity in China, which is looking more and more like a concrete jungle and a gigantic construction site in one. In The Wild Goose Lake, Zhou Zenong is the leader of a gang of thieves. When he accidentally kills a police officer, he becomes a fugitive with a huge price on his head. Helping him avoid both the police and his enemies is Liu Aiai, an elegant prostitute sent by his associates. Most of the action takes place during pitch-black nights in the semi-wild region of the eponymous lake—the local hot spot for the criminal set’s illegal dealings. Diao shatters the dense atmosphere with unexpected outbursts of violence, as well as neon, fluorescent aesthetics, which are a perfect reflection of the protagonists’ world and its many contrasts. The director manages, in impressive fashion, to embed the classic formula of a gangster film about outlaws in the context of a country that specializes in surveilling and tracking its own citizens. This is a brutal film that is just in time for the era of permanent surveillance.

Sebastian Smoliński

Diao Yinan

Born in the Shaanxi province of China in 1969, Diao Yinan is a director, screenwriter and actor. He graduated from Beijing’s Central Academy of Drama in 1992. In the 1990s, he worked mainly as a screenwriter. He has directed three films in addition to Uniform, his 2003 debut. Night Train (2007) won the Grand Prix at the Warsaw Film Festival, and Black Coal, Thin Ice won a Golden Bear in Berlin. The Wild Goose Lake is Diao’s first film to take part in the main competition at the Cannes Festival.


2003 Mundur / Zhifu / Uniform

2007 Nocny pociąg / Ye che / Night Train

2014 Czarny węgiel, kruchy lód / Bai ri yan huo / Black Coal, Thin Ice

2019 Jezioro dzikich gęsi / Nan fang che zhan de ju hui / The Wild Goose Lake

Cast & Crew

director Diao Yinan
screenplay Diao Yinan
cinematography Dong Jinsong
editing Kong Jinlei, Matthieu Laclau
cast Hu Ge, Liao Fan, Gwei Lun-mei, Wan Qian
producer Yang Shen, Michel Merkt
production Green Ray Films, Memento Films
Polish distributor Aurora Films
language Mandarin
colouration colour