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Posted on Thu, Jan 6, 2011 : 6:12 a.m.

"The Shaft" ("Dixia de Tiankong") film at U of M Center for Chinese Studies Tuesday

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

On Tuesday, Jan. 11, the University of Michigan Global Lens Initiative and Center for Chinese Studies will be showing The Shaft (Dixia de tiankong), directed by Zhang Chi, in Room 1636 of the School of Social Work Building, 1080 S. University, Ann Arbor. There will be two screenings, at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. The film is in Mandarin with English subtitles.

From the University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies website:

In a poor mining town in western China, the stories of a father and his two children intersect and intertwine, illuminating complicated relationships hidden beneath the community’s hardened exterior. Accused of an affair with her manager, the attractive daughter of the household finds herself spurned by her boyfriend and forced to accept an arranged marriage. Her brother dreams of being a singer, but after an unforeseen stint in prison, reluctantly heads into the mines like his father, who spends his days searching for the wife who left him so many years ago. Writer-director Zhang Chi’s wise and poetic debut delicately expresses the turmoil of emotion and expectation wrought by a calloused and difficult existence.

Director Zhang Chi was born in Beijing, China in 1977. He studied film direction at the Central Academy of Drama, and served as the director of the Chinese national television company, CCTV, from 2000 to 2004. In 2008, he won China’s Golden Rooster Award for Best Screenplay for the film Tokyo Trial. The Shaft is his first feature film.

Slant Magazine gives the film three out of four stars in a very interesting review of the film.

This film is part of the University of Michigan International Institute’s Global Lens Film Series which features culturally relevant narrative feature films from regions not typically seen in our mainstream movie theaters, including Vietnam, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Algeria, India, Serbia, China, and South Africa.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Ann Arbor and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is editor of Asian American Village, lead multicultural contributor for, and a contributor for New America Media's Ethnoblog. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her website at, her blog at, and she can be reached at