In the Heat of the Sun

Director: Jiang Wen
Screenwriters: Jiang Wen

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


Based on the novel Wild Beasts by one of China’s most popular novelists, Wang Shuo, In the Heat of the Sun tells the story of two rival gangs and their battle for supremacy on the deserted streets of Beijing in 1969 following its evacuation at the height of the Cultural Revolution. The story revolves around the young protagonist, Ma Xiaojun, his love for the beautiful Milan, and the lengths to which he will go to impress her and win the respect of his gang, The Young and Provoked.

Although the Beijing depicted in the film is a highly charged political arena where rapidly unfolding events are changing the world, politics does not interest the children who have been left behind, forgotten in the exodus. They are more interested in cars, money, girls, and drawing lines in an urban environment abandoned by authority.

The highly anticipated directorial debut of actor Jiang Wen, star of Red Sorghum and Hibiscus Town, In the Heat of the Sun features lush photography by Gu Changwei, China’s foremost cinematographer (Judou, Farewell My Concubine). Following in the footsteps of filmmakers like Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige, Jiang Wen is the first of a provocative new generation of filmmakers emerging in China.

— Christian Gaines

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]