24 June 2021

Congratulations to OA and former AFU filmmaker Tian Ji whose new documentary The Re-education of Ji Zhihao will receive its world premiere at the prestigious 25th LA Shorts International Film Festival which takes place next month.

This is an Oscar and BAFTA qualifying event, so to be included in the American-run festival is a significant feather in Tian’s cap. Tian told us he started his project over six years ago. The film follows a man from Shanghai as he makes a wintry return with his grand-nephew to the remote rural village in which his “re-education” took place during the years of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. As they explore the landscapes of the past and encounter some of Ji Zhihao’s old acquaintances, the pair uncover painful truths about both the past and present.

After his time at Abingdon, Tian studied Chinese at SOAS in London, before winning a BAFTA and YIP Foundation scholarship for post-graduate study in Hong Kong that saw him working alongside the award-winning British director Kevin Mcdonald (Touching the Void, The Last King of Scotland, One Day in September) before embarking on a freelance career as a producer, editor and documentary filmmakers in the UK and China. Talking about his early filmmaking as a member of the AFU, Tian spoke of the AFU’s co-founder and fellow OA Mike Grigsby who was one of the leading British documentarists of the post-war era. Tian said, “Mike Grigsby has been a constant and steady inspiration, and…during the past six years, I have definitely felt very strongly the lessons and values taught by him and everyone else at AFU, more strongly in fact than a lot of the lessons I learned while working in professional film production. Likewise the incredible guidance from the AFU tutors I worked with – cinematographer Jonas Mortensen and sound designer Mikkel Eriksen.”

Naturally, everyone at Abingdon is delighted at Tian’s news, but there was additional delight yesterday when Tian reported that the LA Shorts Festival is also showing the latest collaboration between Sir Paul McCartney and ex-AFU animation tutor Geoff Dunbar, When Winter Comes. Our congratulations to Tian and Geoff on their tremendous achievements, and fingers crossed for the Oscar and BAFTA nominations!

The image shows the poster for Tian’s new film.

For those who would like to keep up with news of Tian’s film work, here is the link to his Vimeo site.

Geoff Dunbar and Paul McCartney’s film When Winter Comes can be seen here.

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