Monday, July 19, 2021



TOUCH is set in modern China and follows Fei Fei, a beautiful western woman who is married to a Chinese man, Zhang Hua (Yang Jun). Despite speaking the language flawlessly she faces immigration challenges in her attempt to obtain a permanent residence status in China despite having a son with a Chinese citizen.

At first, it appears that the couple is in a loving marriage, and Fei Fei seems delighted in taking on a traditional role in the relationship despite her western upbringing and Zhang Hua enjoys her beauty and passion, and the fact that she teaches the Tango marks her as very different than any of his friends’ wives. In his eyes, she is a rare treasure. 

But with the immigration status in limbo, Fei Fei feels uncertain about her future, the less secure in her marriage. Falling into a kind of erotic limbo, she begins to act strangely, pushing the boundaries of Chinese tradition, embarrassing Zhang Hua in front of his friends.

The friction between them grows, and a shattered Fei Fei seeks comfort in the arms of a blind masseur Bai Yu (Yuan Jiangwei) entering into a dangerous and passionate affair.

Caught in a web, some of her own doing, when Fei Fei discovers Zhang Hua withdrawing his support, it sends her into a tailspin.

TOUCH is shot entirely in Beidaihe, China, and director, Szczepanowska was the first western woman to shoot an independent movie in the People's Republic of China. Born and raised in Poland, but raised around the world, while living in China she felt a bond with the people and the land, that she could not explain. It was that tugging of her heart that inspired her to shape the story about people who push the boundaries. 

For example in TOUCH Fei Fei is has already set herself apart as a Tango dance instructor, and since touch between strangers isn’t forbidden it’s certainly frowned upon. The act of teaching tango requires close physical contact, and as such, her chosen profession isn't considered essential, throwing a complication into her quest for permanent residency.

Keeping on the rebel track, even Fei Fei's decision to visit a blind, male masseur is questioned and in many ways a selfish act. Masseur Bai Yu is deeply uncomfortable massaging a woman and is aroused by the new experience. Maybe for the first time in his young life, he’s truly blind. 

Throwing caution to the wind the affair takes on a life of its own. A grave error. 

As Fei Fei discovers more about her husband and begins to trust in their relationship again, she pulls away from Bai Yu, underestimating his feelings and his strength. 

As a director and lead, Szczepanowska gets a lot of things right and brings to issues that are touchy like US immigration and how foreigners are viewed in China. 

It’s also smart to look at immigration inside China and how someone from the western world carves out space there. Despite TOUCH being an erotic thriller, it shows the layers of stress and the trauma of relocating to a country vastly different from your own.

There is great intelligence in how TOUCH explores the weight of immigration in a modern world while keeping the balance of sharing the intimate details of a torrid affair, thus making it easier to understand and to feel for Fei Fei.

Fei Fei’s in love with her husband, and her child means everything to her, but her insecurity around her immigration status in her adopted country could ruin all of it. As her affair starts to unravel, we view this conflict in a series of fever dreams that confuse reality, and the end of the film is best left open to interpretation.

In a snap of a finger, Bai Yu unexpectedly became everyone's worst nightmare. No spoiler alerts here but the end is a surprise. 

It’s fascinating to see the inside life of Chinese people making this film well worth your time.  

TOUCH won Best Screenplay at Beloit International Film Festival (2021), Best Feature - December, Brazil International Monthly Independent Film Festival (2020), Best Producer Toronto Women Film Festival (2020), Best Feature, LA Femme Film Festival (2020), Best Feature (2020), NYC Independent Film Festival, Best Director (2020), NYC Independent Film Festival, Best Director, NYC Independent Film Festival (2020), Quarterfinalist, Academy Nicholl Fellowship (2018), Quarterfinalist, Finish Line Script Competition (2018).  Starring, written and directed by Aleksandra Szczepanowska (Fei Fei). Starring Yang Jun, Yuan Jiangwei, Beckhan Teng Aixian , Liu Yuqiao, Liu Yahui, Tang Tao, He Danqiao , Liao Zihan , Li Changhong, Kong Defeng.

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