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Although he made the lushly melodramatic Farewell My Concubine (pictured, May 26, 8:15 p.m.; May 28, 4 p.m.), pioneering Chinese director Chen Kaige has also crafted more austere films. This retrospective of work by the first of the “Fifth Generation” film-school graduates to actually make a movie opens with one of the latter, the starkly lyrical Life on a String, in which a blind apprentice musician rebels against his master (May 14, 8:15 p.m.; May 16, 6:30 p.m.). Also included is the 1984 film that started the Chinese cinema renaissance, Yellow Earth, the tale of a peasant woman questioning her arranged marriage (May 25, 6:30 p.m.; May 27, 5:45 p.m.); The Big Parade, a parable of the collision between individuality and collectivism (May 19, 6:30 p.m.; May 21, 8:30 p.m.); and The King of Children, an account of a rural teacher who dares encourage his students to express themselves (May 21, 6:30 p.m.; May 23, 6:30 p.m.). Both Earth and Parade were shot by Zhang Yimou, later to direct Raise the Red Lantern and other art-house hits. At the Kennedy Center’s American Film Institute Theater. $6. (202) 785-4601. (Mark Jenkins)