Skip to content

Directed by Jia Zhangke

China, France, Japan 2018 141 mins In Mandarin with subtitles

Jia’s 11th feature is a piercing tale of lost love, following Qiao (Zhao Tao, in one of the year’s fiercest and most heartbreaking performances) and her mob-boss boyfriend Bin (Liao Fan), rulers of the Datong underworld at the turn of the 21st century. When a rival gang threatens Bin’s life, Qiao acts in defense, setting off a series of life-changing events that see her traveling hand-to-mouth across the country—and notably through Jia’s familiar Three Gorges Dam region—in search of Bin and the life she left behind. Spanning decades and moving across vast swaths of China’s diverse physical and psychic landscape as seen through the eyes of one woman scorned, Ash Is Purest White is “Zhao’s finest showcase to date—for the way she uses grace, intelligence, and humor with a dexterity that’s perfectly suited for the register of Jia’s aesthetically and thematically diverse film.” —Sam C. Mac, Slant Magazine.

Filmography: Xiao Wu (1997), Platform (2000), Unknown Pleasures (2002), The World (2004), Still Life (2006), 24 City (2008), I Wish I Knew (2010), A Touch of Sin (2013), Mountains May Depart (2015)

Content warning: scenes of intense violence

Sponsored by the AC Hotel Portland

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.