Chinese tale of revenge is surprise film in Venice

Murder, revenge and a quest for justice drive Chinese director Shangjun Cai's movie, "People Mountain, People Sea," as the surprise film in competition for the Golden Lion award in Venice.

Based on a true story, the film sees protagonist Tie set off on a mission to track down his younger brother's killer after the police manage to identify the culprit but let him slip through their fingers.

The quest becomes a search for identity and intimacy in a world of brutality and betrayal as Tie hunts for the killer through the underworld of Southwest China's Chongqing city and in the hellish bowels of a mine.

The film's title comes from a proverb describing "a gigantic crowd of people" according to the director, whose debut movie, "The Red Awn", won the 2007 Fipresci prize at the 12th Pusan international film festival.

"The individuals composing the crowd, or the mountain and sea... are struggling for survival, which ultimately leads to the mixed noise of exclamations, groans and roars," Cai said.

The cries are "just like the complex, yet majestic sound you hear when standing on a beach or in a valley," he added.

Despite being cheated of the little money he has and suffering a humiliating reunion with his ex-girlfriend and the son he has never met, Tie refuses to give in, continuing his search for the killer at any cost.

"When life is trampled, dignity ravaged, justice abandoned and human nature ruined, more people chose to muddle along," said Cai.

"I prefer Lao Tie's stubbornness... Facing the final shackles he does not choose silence, but to fight with his life, and to use violence against violence - it is the ultimate weapon of the proletarians," he added.

"People, Mountain, People Sea" brings the number of films in competition up to 23 titles. The winner of the Golden Lion award for the 68th edition of the festival will be announced on Saturday.

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