2025 Feature and Short Film Submissions Now Open

At once an intimate drama and a decades-spanning epic that leaps from the recent past to the present to the speculative near-future, the new film from Chinese master Jia Zhang-ke is an intensely moving study of how China’s economic boom—and the culture of materialism it has spawned—has affected the bonds of family, tradition, and love. Mountains May Depart opens in 1999 to the strains of the Pet Shop Boys’ “Go West,” and it’s to the West that small-town dance instructor Shen Tao (Zhao Tao) looks when she marries the slick entrepreneur Zhang (Zhang Yi) and soon gives birth to a son, whom Zhang christens Dollar. The chasm between the family’s origins and their new life of Western-style wealth grows ever wider as the film leaps ahead to 2014 and finally to 2025, when Dollar is living in Australia and struggling to relearn the mother tongue he has forgotten with the help of an attractive, older college professor (Sylvia Chang), who embodies the culture, life, and love he has never truly known. Shooting each of the film’s three time periods in a different aspect ratio—with the square Academy frame gradually expanding to widescreen — Jia creates a prescient chronicle of his country’s path to the future. Lyrical, moving, and dazzlingly ambitious,Mountains May Depart is one of the year’s most important films. (Toronto)