Now Streaming: Last Year of Darkness Brings the Club to MUBI

Experimental doc is a hypnotic portrait of China's club kids

2 mins read

Dance the night away with a band of outsiders in The Last Year of Darkness. Now streaming on MUBI, the documentary is an invigorating observational portrait of the club scene in Chengdu, China where neon lights and vomit paint an honest portrait of the drag queens, DJs, and dancers who thrive at night. Directed by Benjamin Mullinkosson, who casts many of the friends he came to know on the scene in Chengdu, the film also captures the last days of the gang’s beloved gathering place, Funky Town: an energetic dive bar where everyone can be themselves and surrender to the techno beats.

Ahead of the MUBI release of The Last Year of Darkness, POV spoke with Mullinkosson about making a doc that’s the life of the party, empowering his friends through the camera, and navigating his experience as an American artist who is most at home in this corner of China.

“The problem with Funky Town closing is that it feels so sad. I wanted this film to end on a happier note because everyone is not sad all the time, by any means. Everyone lives really great lives and, to me, this film is a celebration of life. It’s a celebration of my friends’ experiences in Chengdu and the strength in vulnerability that they have for being so brave and being so bare by showing the struggles they go through,” Mullinkosson tells POV. “We wanted it to still feel happy and positive, and I think Yihao presented that when he chose ‘Life on Mars’ to perform in drag. In the end, Funky town still closed down; it’s like not there anymore. That’s a truth, but the techno music still lives within us. The party. Funky Town lives on when everyone’s listening to techno on the subway [at the end of the film]. It’s says the subway’s here, but we’re still partying. We’re still alive.”

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