09 20 Oct '24
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Wang Bing

Man in Black

Edition 2023
60' - 2023 - Documentary - Dialogue: Mandarin
Director: Wang Bing With: Xilin Wang
Contrary to what you may expect with a title like Man in Black, this is not a film about Johnny Cash. Instead, it focuses on another musical genius, Chinese contemporary composer Wang Xilin.
An old man slowly strolls through a theatre that is largely shrouded in darkness. Only after a while do we discover that he is naked. Eventually he steps onto the sage, the camera circling around him, finally ending up on his face on which the traces of a hard life are visible. Wang Xilin, 86 at the time of filming, is currently one of China's most acclaimed composers. Although he joined the People's Liberation Army at 13, he was later spit out by the Communist Party. During the Cultural Revolution, he was tortured but survived. For Wang Bing, one of the most important documentarians of this century, Man in Black is atypical. Here, we are no fly-on-the-wall but a witness of a highly stylised formal language. Surprising, albeit as penetrating, as Wang's other, more 'classic' film on the programme, Youth (Spring).
“86-year-old Chinese composer Wang Xilin uses his naked body and his life story as eloquent vessels of protest art in this extraordinary, achingly beautiful hour-long film. He endured 14 years of persecution - including beatings and torture - after falling out of favor with the Chinese Communist Party.” - Variety

Image gallery

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Wang Bing


Xilin Wang

Director of Photography

Caroline Champetier


Claire Atherton


K. Lihong, Sonia Buchman, Nicolas R. de la Mothe

Production studios

Gladys Glover

More information



Countries of production

United States of America, United Kingdom, France




Wang Bing
Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks (1999-2003), Brutality Factory (short, 2007), Fengming, A Chinese Memoir (2007), Crude Oil (2008), Coal Money (short, 2008), Xi yang tang (short, 2009), Man with No Name (2010), The Ditch (2010), Three Sisters (2012), Alone (2013), Venice 70: Future Reloaded (2013), 'Til Madness Do Us Part (2013), Father and Son (2014), Traces (short, 2014), Ta'ang (2016), Bitter Money (2016), Mrs. Fang (2017), Dead Souls (2018), Youth (Spring) (2023), Man in Black (2023)

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