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Presented by Columbia College Chicago, the Chicago International Film Festival, and the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China, this series of Chinese films from the past two decades screens Thursday through Sunday, March 17 through 20, at the Columbia College Ludington Building, 1104 S. Wabash. Admission is free, though seating is limited; for more information call 312-344-7870. Unless otherwise noted, all films are in subtitled Mandarin or Cantonese.

The festival opens with Xie Fei’s Woman Sesame Oil Maker (1993, 106 min.), a domestic drama starring Siquin Gaowa (Thu 3/17, 8 PM). Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote that Li Shaohong’s Blush (1995, 115 min.) “offers a remarkable retrospective look at the 1949 communist revolution. Adapting a novel by Su Tong (author of the source material for Raise the Red Lantern), it follows the shifting fortunes of two former Shanghai prostitutes and one of their clients, and the conclusions it draws about their respective strengths, weaknesses, and destinies are never simple or obvious. The beautiful cinematography, by Li’s husband, Zeng Nianping, frames much of the action from a distance, recalling both Chinese painting and the 1930s work of Kenji Mizoguchi, while remaining unusually sensitive to architecture (for example, it wonderfully reveals the interactions between one couple and their downstairs neighbors with many shots framed from the courtyard). This is the best mainland Chinese feature I saw in the mid-90s.” (Sat 3/19, 8 PM)

Also screening are Huang Jianzhong’s A Good Woman (1986, 110 min.), about a woman victimized by repressive social customs (Fri 3/18, 8 PM); Li Shaohong’s Red Suit (2000, 110 min.), about three generations of a contemporary Chinese family (Sat 3/19, 2 PM); a collection of short films with English voice-over narration (Sun 3/20, 2 PM); and Gu Rong’s Peking Duck Restaurant (1990, 100 min.), in which a patriarch recounts the story of a famous Beijing institution. (Sun 3/20, 8 PM)