Dali City via NOWNESS [VIDEO]

A Fusion of Contemporary Art and Mountain Tradition Erupts in China’s Cultural Haven: Nestled alongside China’s Erhai Lake in the dramatic Cangshan mountains, the ancient Dali City is the subject of this dreamy short by filmmaker Eric K. Yue and writer Zachary Mexico. An arts enclave in the province of Yunnan, Dali’s mellow charm has long lured a vibrant community of artisans, poets and wayfarers, including artist H.N. Han, whose personal art museum houses works by Roy Lichtenstein, and coffee purveyor Gong Jiaju, who painstakingly seals his boxes of aromatic beans with hot ruby-colored wax. Dali is also a rare center of Bai culture, a Sino-Tibetan community famed for its artisanal expertise and elegant architecture featuring upturned gables. According to Mexico, author of 2009’s China Underground, the residents “are living for the sake of living”—something that captivated him when he first traveled to Dali 12 years ago. Finding the tranquil pace especially conducive to creative thought, he frequently visits from his home in New York for writing sabbaticals. New York-based director Yue, visiting the country for the first time, found experimental ways to break the ice with the local community. “I found I couldn’t interact with people, so I did magic tricks to get them to like me,” he explains. “It’s a purely visual language—there are no boundaries with magic.” Next up, Yue and Mexico will collaborate on a series of films about Chinese youth culture with Forever Pictures.

Dali City on Nowness.com.

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