Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)
IMDb rating: 6.7/10
Black Coal, Thin Ice is a 2014 Chinese thriller film written and directed by Diao Yinan. The film won the Golden Bear award at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival.
Zhang Lili (Liao Fan) is an ex-cop traumatized by a brutal shooting he witnessed five years before while on the trail of a killer leaving chopped-up body parts in piles of coal.
Now a drunk and a loser, he works as a security guard and becomes obsessed with a new case: corpses chopped up in the same way, but with a macabre new detail – the feet have ice-skates attached.
The film's English title Black Coal, Thin Ice is different from its Chinese title Bai Ri Yan Huo, which translates literally as Daylight Fireworks. Diao came across this phrase from a friend of his. He further clarified the meaning of "daylight fireworks" as a state of sentiment. For him, the Chinese and English names together help construct the difference between reality and fantasy.
Most of the shootings take place in Harbin, capital city of Heilongjiang province in Northeast China.
Having the most bitterly cold winters of major Chinese cities, Harbin is heralded as the Ice City for its well-known winter tourism and recreation. It is noted for its beautiful winter ice sculpture festival.
From January through to mid-March, Harbin hosts the International Ice and Snow Festival. Exhibitions of snow and ice sculptures, kept pristine by subzero temperatures, are dotted across multiple locations.