Jia Zhangke (Touch of Sin, Mountains May Depart) often creates contemplative stories that reflect issues in society, and I’m expecting his new romantic thriller Ash is Purest White 江湖儿女 to do the same.

In a poor industrial town in Shanxi, dancer Qiaoqiao, played by the director’s muse and wife Zhao Tao, falls in love with taxi driver Bin (Brother Bin), played by Liao Fan (Master). He gets embroiled in gang violence, and Qiaoqiao is sentenced to five years in jail after firing a shot at the assailants. Qiaoqiao goes in search of her lover after she is released, though things don’t go as planned.

Directors Feng Xiaogang (Youth), Xu Zheng (Lost in Hong Kong/Thailand), Diao Yinan (Black Coal, Thin Ice) and Zhang Yibai (I Belonged to You) as well as actors Zhang Yi (Operation Red Sea) and Dong Zijian (Miracles of the Namiya General Store) have been cast in unspecified roles.

Ash is Purest White takes place between 2001 and 2018, and is loosely related to Jia Zhangke’s earlier works Unknown Pleasures and Still Life. The film will probably screen at international film festivals late this year.

Full cast (click to enlarge):

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