A rare political satire, Black Cannon Incident was among the harbingers of the New Chinese Cinema that garnered international attention from the mid-1980s. When engineer Zhao Shuxin sends an urgent telegram — ‘Missing black cannon, search in 301 for Zhao’ — his cryptic message arouses suspicion, leading to an absurd investigation that forces him out of his job, bewildering his German colleague and eventually costing his factory a large sum of money. Made as a parody of the spy movies popular in China during the 1950s-1970s, and sporting a groundbreaking modernist set design, this black comedy satirizes the incompetence and paranoia of the bureaucracy, an assessment widely shared by the Chinese population in the late 1980s.
This film is part of Asia and the Pacific Screens Season Four: Roots & Routes, sponsored by the Australian Centre on China in the World. Introduced by Merrilyn Fitzpatrick, who with Andrew Pike and their company Ronin Films introduced the films of the Fifth Generation of Chinese directors, the Chinese New Wave as the Western film going public understood it at the time, to Australian audiences in the late 1980s.
Directed by Huang Jianxin 黄建新
1985, 94 mins, China
Chinese with English subtitles