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Summer Swing: A film about social oppression and the desire for human freedom by Kunao Yan

Film Poster, Kunao Yan, 2020


In the 1980s, the Chinese government launched a severe crackdown on crime. As he liked dancing, doorman Xiao Jun got to know Zhang Jianqiang, who headed the school gang and organized dance parties. Xiao Jun thought that he would find his true love, but was later caught in a complex conflict.

Trailer of Summer Swing, Kunao Yan, 2020

Director Kunao Yan employs a documentary style in this film, with an opening indicating the oppression of Chinese society in the 1980s when dancing and entertainment could be charged as a crime and gangsters were sentenced to a felony. His use of color palettes also renders the atmosphere for such suppressive times. In the film, Kunao's strict use of medium and close shots not only conveys the insignificance of the protagonist, Xiao Jun, in the social order but also vividly shows the richness of his inner world, the subtle desire for breaking the social constraints, and the struggle between his identity as a good student and son versus his identity on the dance floor befriending gangsters. Although "Summer Swings" is period-specific, the transition in Xiao Jun's character and its open ending leaves plenty of room for viewers to think about the relationship between their identities and the society surrounding them.

Film Still, Kunao Yan, 2020
Film Still, Kunao Yan, 2020

Summer Swing was selected for Shanghai International Film Festival, Student Academy Award Semi-Final, Las Semaine de la critique Shortlisted, Poitier Film Festival, 2020 KUKI International Film Festival, and CineCina Film Festival. Director Yan won Best Director, Best Film at the AMFA Film Festival of Young Cinema, Best Director in Kuala Lumpur International Film Festival in Sky, Best Audience Award in Odyssey UK0China Film Collaboration Project as a director, screenwriter, producer, and editor.


About Kunao Yan

Kunao Yan, a young filmmaker born in China, finished his bachelor's degree majoring in screenwriting and is now studying in Columbia University Film MFA Program. His works feature people’s relationships and one’s psychological as well as spiritual feelings in a subtle and authentic way. He also works as an editor, and screenwriter in a variety of art forms and genres.


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