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Monochrome film still in which a skeleton dressed in a suit with a white bowtie, black top hat, and glasses holds up a skull mask in the Mexican Day of the Dead style with a gloved hand.

1930s Mexico, Isamu Noguchi, and Sergei Eisenstein’s Unfinished Mexican Film

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In 1930, Russian avant-garde film director Sergei Eisenstein traveled to Mexico to start a film project known as ¡Que viva México!—but production was eventually abandoned and the film was never finished. We are showing astonishing camera footage from this unfinished project, and a short film made by editing the available footage, as part of M+ Screenings: In the World, Of the World on 12–14 April. It is shown in the context of the Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint exhibition, drawing connections to Isamu Noguchi’s participation in the 1930s Mexican art scene in which Eisenstein’s film was shot.

Upon Charlie Chaplin’s recommendation, Sergei Eisenstein connected with writer Upton Sinclair, who helped fund the project. Eisenstein shot dozens of hours of footage for what was planned to be a multi-chapter film about the history of Mexico. Funds from the Mexican Film Trust—a production company established by Sinclair, his wife, and other investors—were soon exhausted, and Eisenstein’s chances of finishing the film himself further diminished as his re-entry visa to the United States expired and he was unable to secure an extension to his permission to remain away from the Soviet Union. Much of the footage was brought back to the U.S. by the producers, and Eisenstein’s film remained incomplete.

Below, Professor Natascha Drubek writes about the film and Eisenstein’s legacy, providing context for one of the most famous unfinished film projects in cinema history.

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A playground with multiple sculptural climbing structures. Two of the structures consist of coloured concrete cylinders and half-cylinders stacked on top of each other in different combinations. The third consists of a large, flat, white piece of concrete with large holes cut in it, curved, angled, and shaped so that it curves over the ground, angles outwards, and then curves into itself from underneath. Numerous children sit or stand on top of these structures and mill about below them.

A Brief History of Playgrounds in Hong Kong

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The below article was written by Fan Lok Yi, curator and artist based in Hong Kong, who, in a team with curator, artist, and academic Sampson Wong, is a recipient of the 2018 M+ / Design Trust Research Fellowship. They have been studying the international trends and local factors that shaped 20th-century Hong Kong playscapes.

In the early twentieth century, Hong Kong was plagued by a problem with street children caused by widespread poverty and a lack of social welfare support. To address this issue, in 1929, the government started to construct the first urban playgrounds for children to spend time in and let off steam.

Computer animated still depicting a square grassy island in the middle of an ocean at sunset. A row of increasingly tall, alternating trees and unicorn horns sticking out of the ground divides the island into two. Several shapes covered in white fabric covered in logos lie on the island.

Miao Ying and the ‘Chinternet’ Can Help You Detox from the World Wide Web

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Need an online break from the dominance of multi-billion dollar ‘unicorn’ businesses like Google and Facebook? Set your virtual private network (VPN) to mainland China, where these websites and apps are blocked, for a relaxing online retreat!

This is the satirical concept behind Shanghai– and New York–based artist Miao Ying’s Hardcore Digital Detox (2018), the first work in M+’s new online series of digital commissions housed here on M+ Stories. The browser-based work is a playful reflection on both the ‘Chinternet’ and World Wide Web, using the concept of a wellness retreat to comment on issues of global capitalism, online propaganda, and media democracy.

Below, we chat to Miao Ying about the inspiration behind the work, her relationship with censorship, and unicorn poop.

What inspired you to create an online retreat experience?

A woman stands in a doorway, looking back indoors. She’s leaning against the doorframe with her hands against her back.

The Affectionate Appeal of Ann Hui’s Filmography

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The below post was written by film critic Long Tin in conjunction with the screening programme, M+ Screenings: The Film Life of Ann Hui. You can catch the final weekend of the screening from 14–16 December at Broadway Cinematheque.

Imagine an attractive passerby; they catch your eye because of their looks, posture, and aura. Of course, we all know that, ultimately, it is their inner beauty that counts. However, this inner beauty is in constant interplay with the effects of their outward appearance.

If we were to compare a good film to this charming individual, their outward appearance might correspond to the film’s use of sound and image, its meticulous mise-en-scène, its performances, and dramatic power. Meanwhile, their inner beauty would parallel the film’s narrative structure, its treatment of subject matter, its build-up of mood, and intellectual depth. A pioneer of Hong Kong New Wave cinema, the filmmaker Ann Hui moves audiences with an elegance in her early work that is immediately recognisable. But it is the subtler depth from within her later films that is worth savouring time and again.