Sometimes called the most significant of the current generation of Chinese film directors, Jia Zhangke (b. 1970) enjoys the distinction of never having had some of his finest work commercially shown in his own country.

This would include the so-called "Hometown Trilogy," here illuminatingly examined by Michael Berry in a new volume in the exemplary BFI Film Classics series. The three films compose Jia's first feature-length productions: "Pickpocket" (aka "Xiao Wu") was completed in 1997, "Platform" in 2000, and "Unknown Pleasures" in 2002.

The three, as Berry explains, form a trilogy not in the sense of any narrative continuity but in terms of their "shared aesthetic vision, social critique, and the common socio-geographic-historic terrain they traverse."