UCCA Beijing



Cinema Arts
Location:  UCCA Art Cinema
Language:  Chinese and English subtitles


Sun Spots

2009 / China / Yang Heng / 112 min / Chinese and English Subtitles

Beijing Indie Workshop has been devoted to promoting, collecting and popularizing Chinese independent films. Mr.Zhang Xianmin founded Indie Workshop in 2005.Indie Workshop has sound cooperation with many Chinese independent directors. It has successfully produced and distributed a number of independent films. Indie Workshop also has been organizing screening events or festivals. It has organized special events of Chinese independent films in other countries. Furthermore, Indie workshop also provides facilities and consulting to the curators, programmers and academics.

Sun Spots, the second feature film by young director Yang Heng, is a modern, minimalist take on the classic romance/gangster story: tattooed boy meets girl; boy gets beaten up by loan sharks; boy falls in love with girl; love goes wrong. Composed entirely of 31 long, static-camera shots, the film tells its tale through simple visual language and poetic atmosphere. Sun Spots won the Golden Digital Award in the Asian Digital Competition at the 2010 Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) and was screened in competition at the 2010 Rotterdam International Film Festival.

“Yang Heng structures each shot so perfectly, with expansive, sublime natural scenery framing its solitary human figures, that the experience of viewing it is akin to reading poetry or immersing oneself in traditional Chinese brush painting.”

–Vancouver International Film Festival


Is it possible to make a gangster film without any of the genre’s common places? Can violence be stripped down to the point of revealing its most unexpected side? Will someone ever dare to propose a change in the orientation of Asian contemplative cinema without losing the radical spirit of that poetics? Sun Spots is the affirmative answer to all of these questions and one of the most estranged narrations in Chinese contemporary cinema. In a rural and almost bucolic landscape, a series of young people cross their lives and create a sort of community in the margins, without this condition ever being portrayed as part of a miserable existence. Instead, Yang Heng’s second film finds aspects of realism, absurdity, beauty and more unclassifiable experiences that function in synchrony without canceling or pushing each other out. And if by any chance you can hear the echo of Tsai Ming-liang and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s subtlety, is because the same free spirit that fuels every great cinematographic eye seems to have been unleashed deep inside the time and space of Heng’s framings.

Director’s Bio

Yang Heng is an independent filmmaker and screenwriter based in Beijing. He was born in the town of Jishou in Hunan province. He graduated from Hunan Audiovisual University and Beijing Film Academy. In 2008 he was a Cinéfondation artist in residence. Betelnut was his first feature film, which won New Currents Award at Pusan International Film Festival in 2006.

Director’s Statement

The story is simple. It's about three people: a tattooed boy, a woman and her boyfriend, who she is angry with because he has cheated on her. The boy, who is beaten up by loan sharks he didn't pay off on time, falls in love with the woman.

The film was shot in Hunan, a Chinese province that is still somewhat backward. I myself was born and bred there. I want viewers to experience the typical atmosphere of Hunan; Beijing is very far away. It's an area with mountains, rivers and sea. That was also an important reason to film there.

I chose a style with long shots and no camera movements as I find that the most natural. If you look at two people, you also stand still and look at the whole, but focus your attention on the two people. What happens comes across more strongly if the picture is still because you concentrate on what the characters do.

This style makes me really different from Hollywood; in those films you see short shots with lots of movement. I deliberately do the opposite. In Chinese society everything gets faster and busier; before everything was more gradual and slower. I wanted to go back to that in this film: the time when things moved slower and no-one let themselves be hurried.




Lu Fanxi(executvie producer)



Indie Workshop