AFK | Screenings

Pre-Opening: Man in Black

Wang Bing
Curated by: Andréa Picard
Man, seen from the bust upwards, lit by warm sunlight gazing downwards, his right hand gently supporting his face.

Man in Black

Wang Bing
France, United States, United Kingdom | 2023 | 6K >DCP 4K | 60 MIN | Mandarin with English subtitles

Wang Xilin, 86, is one of China’s most important modern classical composers. The film exhibits the body and soul of a man scarred by a life of suffering, a "man in black" who is still capable of deep and sincere compassion. With excerpts from his symphonies, he revisits some of the horrifying events that still live on in his memory, a testimony to an era that saw the dehumanization of the Chinese nation.

TIFF Lightbox

350 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 3X5

For a map of TIFF Lightbox , click here

COVID-19 Policy

Images Festival is committed to providing an accessible festival and continues to work to reduce barriers to participation at our events. This year, we are implementing a COVID-19 policy to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission for all, and to prioritize the participation of people who are disability-identified, immunocompromised, or part of an otherwise vulnerable group.

The following guidelines will be in place: Self-Assessment: We ask that staff and participants screen themselves for COVID-19 before visiting the exhibition.

After all, when all is said and done, what else is left but the flesh?

 —Wang Bing

Renowned filmmaker and artist Wang Bing has created an incomparable and immersive body of work bearing witness and giving voice to marginalized and persecuted communities in China. With Man in Black, he intensifies his portraiture by focusing on one man, the 86-year-old Wang Xilin. One of China’s most important modern classical composers, Xilin now lives in Germany. In Paris’ Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, with its majestic proscenium and decaying walls, Wang Xilin’s scar-filled, naked body skulks in and out of the light as he narrates his life, discusses his music, and details the physical and psychological horrors of his political persecution at the hands of the Communist Party. Baring all, body and soul, the composer is filmed by Wang Bing and DP Caroline Champetier with compassion and rapt attention to each flinch, recoil, and effort to carry forth the weight of history. A gripping audio-visual experience and work of living testimony, Man in Black makes brilliant use of Wang Xilin’s symphonies as they powerfully swell and recede. Their abstraction is born of pain and suffering, and yet watching his broken body perform is the ultimate proof of resilience, all while reminding us of how artists’ voices continue to be silenced today. 

Tickets available at Please note that Images Festival Passes do not work for the pre-opener.

Wang Bing

Wang Bing was born in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province. He studied photography at the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang, an industrial city where, years later, he would film Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks. From there he moved on to the Beijing Film Academy, where he discovered the work of Antonioni, Bergman and Pasolini. Most recently, Wang Bing was awarded the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival for Mrs. Fang (2017), and in 2018, Dead Souls was selected for the Out of Competition segment of the Cannes Film Festival. In 2021, Le BAL in Paris mounted an exhibition entitled The Walking Eye during which the French Cinémathèque presented a retrospective of his films. The 2023 Cannes Film Festival will present two new films by Wang Bing: Man in Black as a Special Screening and Youth (Spring) in the Official Competition.

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