Single Take: Jonathan Demme on “Kaili Blues”

What if a brazen first-time filmmaker decided — beyond audaciously — that they didn’t want to cut from one location to another (all quite distant from each other) for about oh, half their new movie, and instead chose to dare to go with one super-duper-transcendental half-hour plus single take? Answer: you wind up with Bi Gan’s absolutely extraordinary Kaili Blues.

Fair warning here: you need to be a seriously open and accessible film buff / cineaste / movie lover to be right for this picture. The cinema muse—deities have inspired and blessed Kaili Blues with a magic and mystery that is utterly unique.

This film is capable of generating giant cinema joyfulness in those who are ready to bring an open heart, mind and eye to this viewing experience.

Director Bi Gan won Best Emerging Director and Best First Feature at the 2015 Locarno Film Festival. I had the thrill of seeing this film first at last year’s Venice Film Festival, and two months later at the Lisbon and Estoril Film Festivals. The screenings I attended gave rise to audience-ecstasy in both situations. I loved it even more the second time.


Single Takes are short reflections on memorable viewing experiences.