Ash Is Purest White
Directed by Jia Zhangke, China 2018
136 mins. Mandarin dialogue with English sub-titles

Initially set in the jianghu criminal underworld, the film is less a gangster movie than a melodrama. With a three-part structure, it begins by following the quick-witted Qiao (Zhao Tao) and her mobster boyfriend Bin (Liao Fan) as they stake out their turf against rivals and upstarts in 2001 post-industrial Datong before expanding out into an epic narrative of how abstract forces shape individual lives, and continues Jia Zhangke's body of work as a record of 21st-century China and its warp-speed transformations.

It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

What the Critics say:
"Despite the volcanic metaphor of the film's title, it's a tale characterised not by violent release, but by a steady - and ultimately compassionate - spirit of resolve ..."  (Pat Padua - Washington Post)