If you like punk music, China, or documentary films, then Never Release My Fist is especially for you. But really, I think this film would appeal to any living, breathing person with an interest in his or her fellow human beings, and how they live their lives, struggle to survive, and try to express themselves. I liked it a lot; if I didn’t have another musical commitment today, I would watch it again!
Montreal documentary filmmaker Shuibo Wang received an Oscar nomination for his NFB short, Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square. In Never Release My Fist he explores the world of Chinese punk, with particular attention paid to Wu Wei, who is often described as the father of Chinese punk. He formed his band SMZB in 1996.
Wu Wei describes himself as unemployed and aimless in the first few years after he finished high school, but he now comes across as very thoughtful and articulate man, distressed by the politics and rampant consumer culture in China. All the same, his lyrics sound quite poetic.
Wu Wei is from the city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province in central China. It’s a city of 10 million people known for heavy industry but it also has several universities, with as many as one million students (potential fans! Though director Wang says that most young Chinese prefer pop music).
While he benefited from some time in Beijing, Wuhan is where Wu Wei played most of his music, and it became the punk hotspot of China.
Musicians everywhere have tough lives, but the punks of Wuhan had little money to buy instruments, few places to play, and they faced government censorship as well. Text messages and email were intercepted.
Wu Wei might be the main star of the film but his bandmates, former bandmates and fellow punk musicians get their share of screen time. Punk in Wuhan was not just a guy thing, either. Women played a big part, too. We see their performances and they share their sometimes harrowing stories and as well.
At some point SMZB included bagpipes and a violin to some songs, a very interesting touch! And Hou Hsiao Hsien uses bagpipes in the closing credits of The Assassin. Are bagpipes a thing in China now?
Filmmaker Shuibo Wang was able to use lots of great vintage footage that was shot before he ever met the musicians. He will attend the screening and answer questions after the film.
Never Release My Fist is being shown as part of the Festival du nouveau cinéma, which runs from Oct. 7 – Oct. 18, 2015. Visit the FNC web site for more information about Never Release My Fist.
Never Release My Fist
Directed by Shuibo Wang
China, Canada | 87 minutes | 2015, in Cantonese with English subtitles
Saturday, Oct.17, 2015, 17:00
Cinéma du Parc 2, 3575 Ave. du Parc