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Future Feature: ‘Dark Matter’
Chen Shi-Zheng’s feature film debut set for limited April release
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Photo by MATTHEW MARGOLIN
Meryl Streep and Liu Ye star in director Chen Shi-Zheng's film “Dark Matter.”
Set for limited release on April 11, First Independent Pictures will present “Dark Matter,” the feature film debut of opera and theater director Chen Shi-Zheng.

“Dark Matter” explores the life of a Chinese science student, Liu Xing, working on a Ph.D. in the United States in the 1990s. Initially, he finds both acceptance and encouragement.

Believing America to be a free market of ideas, Liu Xing fails to recognize the need to navigate academic politics and when his own developing theories conflict with those of his mentor, he finds himself practically ostracized from the scholarly community.

His dissertation rejected, his dreams shattered, Liu Xing explodes in one final act of violence.

Liu Ye plays Liu Xing. “Dark Matter” also stars Aidan Quinn as Jacob Reiser, department head; and Meryl Streep as Joanna Silver, a wealth patron of the university. “Dark Matter” was written by Billy Shebar and is inspired by actual events.

In the director’s statement about “Dark Matter,” Chen Shi-Zheng offers insight into the development of the story.

“I wanted Shebar to make both Liu Xing and his American mentors well-rounded characters with the best intentions,” the director wrote. “The tragedy lies in their failure to connect, despite all their intelligence and good will.”

From his experience as an opera director, Chen Shi-Zheng is accustomed to working closely with designers and performers to evoke a powerful emotional response within the four walls of the theater. He envisions “Dark Matter” as a story of “operatic proportions played out in the real world”

“In directing ‘Dark Matter,’ I wanted to create a cinematic landscape in which ideas and reality never intersect,” Chen Shi-Zheng wrote. “The film freely alternates between Liu Xing's fantasy of American life and the stark realism of his situation.”
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