Auteur Wang Xiaoshuai returns to the Festival with a unique pandemic story of individuals trapped in a claustrophobic environment, facing not only the challenges imposed by the lockdown, curfew, and quarantine, but also the cruel tests of fate and human nature.


Contemporary World Cinema

The Hotel

Wang Xiaoshuai

The Hotel holds a special place within the award-winning filmography of Chinese auteur Wang Xiaoshuai. Shot in 14 days, with very limited means and a generous amount of creativity, the film is entirely set in the Thai hotel where the director and a group of friends — including renowned filmmaker Zhang Yuan, screenwriter Ning Dai, and their daughter Ning Yuanyuan — happened to spend Chinese New Year in 2020. A rare work among the latest Chinese productions, the film reflects on the pandemic and its devastating effects on the minds of the younger generations, once projected into a bright future and now confined within the boundaries of a never-before-experienced uncertainty.

Stranded in a small, rather boring city in a foreign country due to COVID-19, a young Beijing woman — played by Yuanyuan, a child of art and an emerging filmmaker herself — meets a middle-aged man from Wuhan by the hotel swimming pool. She is about to turn 20 and her story connects with that of other hotel guests, expanding into a complex world of hard-to-control magnified emotions.

Simple by design, the film captures, with surgical precision, a mood of entrapment, confusion, apathy, growing frustration, wandering sentiments, and rampant sexual desires. Carefully chosen views of the hotel’s architectural details — balustrades, empty rooms, and stairways — are elegantly framed in the distant hues of black-and-white photography to enhance the atmosphere of estrangement in a once-lively, now semi-deserted place.

Yuanyuan’s ebullient vitality shines in a performance that is at once pensive and vivacious, bringing to the screen a star of tomorrow.


Content advisory: sexual innuendo


Thu Sep 08

Scotiabank 4

Fri Sep 09

Scotiabank 1

Sun Sep 11

Scotiabank 14

Thu Sep 15

Scotiabank 6

Sat Sep 17

Scotiabank 10