Keeping It Reel

David G. McIntyre/Blackstar for TIME.

Directors like Feng Xiaogang are the future of Chinese cinema.

Feng Xiaogang does not dine on shark's fin or camel's hump. He does not wear Armani tuxes to awards galas or parade around with bejeweled women on each arm. "I am a regular guy," Feng says, his tongue swelling his cheek as it seeks out a remnant of dinner from between his molars. "I just happen to make movies instead of, say, working in a factory."

Feng is an ordinary guy of a somewhat heightened sort—he's brutally no-nonsense, unsentimental, funny and earthy to the point of raunchiness—who makes movies that are very much like their creator. And they...

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