By Eric Henderson, WCCO

Aftershock, China’s submission for Academy Award consideration in the best foreign film category, could be taken as the Titanic of the People’s Republic. It’s currently considered the top-grossing domestic film in Chinese history, and, like James Cameron’s shipwreck epic, focuses its attention on a catastrophic event that marked a fairly clear dividing point in the country’s history.

In this case, the central event is the 1976 earthquake that killed nearly one-quarter of the residents in Tangshan, a city that then tallied a population of 1 million. The unthinkable disaster was notable for its role in an ongoing cultural revolution (one which intensified after Mao Zedong died a few months later), but director Feng Xiaogang instead chooses to focus microcosmically on the plight of a fictional family, just as Cameron chose to frame the death of the Titanic around a pair of star-crossed lovers.

The true “aftershock” of the film’s title isn’t so much the result of the earth’s tremors, but instead the psychological after effects of a mother put into a Sophie’s Choice-style situation, forced to choose which of her two children she can save from the wreckage.

Boasting eye-popping visual effects and a compelling emotional drama, Aftershock is nothing if not epic. (Theater 1, 9:45 p.m.)



Other Highlights: Tuesday, April 19

2011 msp film festival logo Movie Blog MSPIFF Spotlight: Aftershock

(credit: The Film Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul)

The White Meadows, a difficult but highly aesthetic-looking Iranian film. (Theater 4; 6:30 p.m.)

Dumas, in which curly-‘fro Gerard Depardieu once again gnaws the scenery right off the walls, which in this case, look quite opulent. (Theater 2; 6:45 p.m.)

Minnesota Narrative Shorts, see all the new and emerging Minnesota talent as they stuff a quart’s worth of cinematic ice cream into a pint-sized running time. (Theater 1; 7 p.m.)


For the complete festival schedule, click here. An alphabetical listing of all the movies being shown can be found here. Ticket information is here.


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