Black Coal, Thin Ice

Dir: Yi'nan Diao




Winner of the Golden Bear for Best Film at the 2014 Berlinale, Diāo Yìnán’s “chilly neo-noir” (Guardian) sets its scene in northern China in 1999, when a disembodied hand is found mixed up with the coal on an industrial conveyor belt. 

With few clues to the identity of the body, plain clothes cop Zhang takes up the case only for it to end abruptly in a spectacularly bungled arrest in a beauty parlour. Traumatised and shamed, he’s dismissed from the police.

But when five years later body parts start to appear again, Zhang, now a security guard, takes a new interest in the laundry assistant at the centre of the investigations, and reunites with his former partner to search anew for the killer.

With its elegant cinematography, gritty urban settings and suspenseful story, this award-winning film is part Hitchcock homage and part social realism with a vivid, warts-and-all portrait of the new China, a country of contrasts.

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