Interval 38. Wang Bing

Man in Black

Friday, 22, and Saturday, 23 September 2023 - 7pm

Free, until full capacity is reached. Doors open 30 minutes before the screening  

Sabatini Building, Auditorium
144 people
Organised by
Museo Reina Sofía
Wang Bing, Man in Black, film, 2023
Wang Bing, Man in Black, film, 2023

Intervals is the Museo Reina Sofía’s regular programme premiering recent film work, salient films from the year in progress or the previous one. This fresh edition shows the national premiere of Man in Black (2023) by Wang Bing (China, 1967), a documentary feature film on memory, truth and the power of music from the biography of composer Wang Xilin (China, 1936). The director will also present the film and participate in the conversation that follows the screening.

At almost ninety, Wang Xilin is one of the most important modern classical music composers in China. The film depicts the figure of a man marked by a life of suffering, a “man in black”, as stated by the title, who despite everything is able to feel profound and sincere compassion. Among powerful extracts of his symphonies, Wang Xilin revisits, in the prestigious Parisian theatre Bouffes du Nord, some of the terrifying events that endure in his memory, offering a testimony of the dehumanisation the Chinese nation suffered during the Cultural Revolution. The drama and intensity of the symphonies are mixed and overlap with the tormented narration of the composer, creating a framework in which word and music share meaning. Wang Bing films every side of the musician’s vulnerability, his nakedness referring to the body as the subject of punishment during years of repression but also a body that moves, gesticulates, plays the piano and speaks in the monumental classical theatre. In essence, Man in Black is the filming of a performance on resilience through music.

For this project, Wang Bing has collaborated with two distinguished professionals from contemporary cinema: cinematographer Caroline Champetier, who has worked with directors such as Leos Carax, Xavier Beauvois and Claude Lanzmann, and film editor Claire Atherton, who oversaw the editing on a large part of Chantal Akerman’s filmography.


Friday, 22 September 2023 – 7pm / Second session: Saturday, 23 September 2023 – 7pm

Wang Bing. Man in Black
France, USA and UK, 2023, colour, original version in Mandarin with Spanish subtitles, DA, 60’

— With a presentation by and conversation with the director


Wang Bing
Caroline Champetier
Erwan Kerzanet and Emmanuel Soland
Claire Atherton
K. Lihong, Sonia Buchman and Nicolas R. de la Mothe
Executive producers:
Karin Chien and Liza Essers
Associate producer:
Frank Lehmann
Produced by:
Gladys Glover
In a co-production with:
Wil Productions, Louverture Films, Goodman Gallery and Le Fresnoy -Studio national des art contemporains
With the support of:
La Région Île-de-France
Financiado por la Unión Europea