Obtaining dGenerate Films

June 19th, 2015

Welcome to dGenerate Films. If you are looking to watch or acquire any of our groundbreaking films featured in our catalog, please contact Icarus Films, who are representing our sales. They can be reached via phone at (718)488-8900 or email at mail@icarusfilms.com.

Visit the dGenerate Films collection on the Icarus Films website by clicking here.

Best of Beijing Independent Film Festival Coming to NYC (update: 3 new films, 2 new venues announced)

July 9th, 2015

* July 28 update:

- two additional screening venues have joined the series, adding two additional films to the lineup. Egg and Stone will screen August 17 at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP; and The Last Moose of Aoluguya will screen September 9 at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University.

- Additionally, UnionDocs has added a fifth film to their portion of the series: The River of Life will screen September 11.

- Filmmaker Li Luo will now be present at both screenings of his film Emperor Visits the Hell at Anthology Film Archives, August 7 and 10.

CINEMA ON THE EDGE: THE BEST OF THE BEIJING INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL 2012-2014 showcases the best recent Chinese independent cinema at multiple venues in New York City

Kickstarter campaign launches in support of Cinema on the Edge

Cinema on the Edge: The Best of the Beijing Independent Film Festival 2012-2014
August 7 to September 13, 2015
Anthology Film Archives, The Asia Society, Maysles Cinema at the Maysles Documentary Center, Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), and UnionDocs

A film series unlike any other, “Cinema on the Edge: Best of the Beijing Independent Film Festival” celebrates the daring spirit and creative innovation of independent filmmakers and festival organizers in mainland China. The Beijing Independent Film Festival (BIFF) has been at the forefront of presenting these groundbreaking films in China, but for the last three years the festival has met substantial official resistance. Several of these films will now be brought to the United States for the first time, to be screened in some of the best museums and cinemas in New York City.

This film series features 18 programs of outstanding recent Chinese independent cinema, showcasing the work of such acclaimed filmmakers as Ai Weiwei, Li Luo, Hu Jie, Zou Xueping and Yang Mingming.  The series is organized and curated by three of Chinese independent cinema’s most committed supporters: producer and distributor Karin Chien, critic and curator Shelly Kraicer, and filmmaker and anthropologist J.P. Sniadecki. Six of NYC’s most revered film and cultural institutions will present these works: Anthology Film Archives, Asia Society, Maysles Cinematheque, The Weatherhead East Asian Insitute at Columbia University Museum of Chinese in America, Made in NY Media Center by IFP, and UnionDocs.

The program team is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for guest travel and program printing, enabling the series to foster important dialogue and discussion around these films. [https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/504829220/cinema-on-the-edge-best-of-the-beijing-indie-film]

Click through for the full series description and list of films. A video introducing the campaign can be viewed here:


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New Book on Independent Chinese Documentary

June 17th, 2015

9780748695621.coverWe’re excited to welcome the publication of a new book, Independent Chinese Documentary: Alternative Visions, Alternative Publics, written by Dan Edwards and published by Edinburgh University Press. Dan has contributed several outstanding articles to dGenerate in the past, and his book is a welcome addition to the burgeoning field of contemporary Chinese cinema and documentary studies.

Details on the book are as follows:

Independent Chinese Documentary: Alternative Visions, Alternative Publics analyses how independent documentaries are forging a new public sphere in today’s China

Since the turn of the twenty-first century there has been an explosion in Chinese independent documentary filmmaking. But how are we to understand this vibrant burst of activity? Are these films brave expressions of dissidence, or do they point to a more complex attempt to expand the terms of public discourse in the People’s Republic?

This timely study is based on detailed interviews with Chinese documentary makers rarely available in English, and insights gained by the author while working as a journalist in Beijing. It considers the relationship between independent documentaries and China’s official film and television sectors, exploring the ways in which independent films probe, question and challenge the dominant ideas and narratives circulating in the state-sanctioned public sphere. Detailed analyses of key contemporary documentaries reveal a sustained attempt to forge an alternative public sphere where the views and experiences of petitioners, AIDS sufferers, dispossessed farmers and the victims of Mao’s repression can be publicly aired for a small, but steadily growing, public.

Key Features:

  • A detailed account of one of the world’s most active, vibrant and challenging contemporary documentary sectors
  • Draws extensively on first-hand interviews with filmmakers
  • Offers in-depth, critical analyses of China’s most challenging contemporary independent documentaries
  • Discusses China’s state-sanctioned film and television sectors to cast new light on how the official public sphere is shaped and guided by the state

Furman University Hosts Chinese Environmental Film Festival This Week

February 23rd, 2015

chinesefilm3The Chinese Environmental Film Festival and Workshop is a collaboration between filmmakers, scholars and experts who are interested in examining the environmental issues facing China. Organized by faculty and staff members at Furman University, the event is being held for the first time.

The festival, which will be held Feb. 26-28, will feature eight films, including the premiere of a documentary produced by two filmmakers from China’s Yunnan Province. The final day of the festival will include a workshop where speakers and experts will have the opportunity to provide critical commentary related to the films.

Supported by a Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment grant, the event is part of Furman’s ongoing effort to encourage innovative interdisciplinary teaching, research and programming on Asia’s environment.

Full schedule follows:

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New Website Profiles History of Chinese Documentary at Sundance

February 16th, 2015
The Chinese Mayor

The Chinese Mayor

This year’s Sundance Film Festival yielded a triumphant moment for Chinese documentary film, when The Chinese Mayor, the latest effort by acclaimed director Zhou Hao and producer Qi Zhao, winning a special jury award. However, of the many independent documentaries that have come from China over the past three decades, this is only the sixth to be featured at Sundance, according to a recent article by Genevieve Carmel. This prompts Carmel to ask “Why don’t Chinese docs go to Sundance?” a question she probes at length in her article, drawing on numerous resources to present her findings.

The article is part of the website Crows & Sparrows, a new initiative “that seeks to create and enhance opportunities for independent media exchange between North American and East/Southeast Asia through regular curation and visiting filmmaker programs.” The current focus of Crows & Sparrows is on connecting film circles in Boston and Beijing. The initiative is founded by three of the most ardent supporters of contemporary Chinese independent cinema: Genevieve Carmel, Benny Shaffer and Zhou Xin. Crows & Sparrows will put its initial efforts to developing screening programs with visiting filmmakers in Boston and sharing news of other related events and international filmmaker opportunities.

Zhou Hao Wins Golden Horse Award; Next Film Chosen for Sundance Competition

December 9th, 2014
Cotton (dir. Zhou Hao)

Cotton (dir. Zhou Hao)

For over a decade, Zhou Hao has been making independent documentaries probing many of China’s most urgent social issues, including migrant labor, drug abuse, law enforcement and political corruption. The former journalist’s fearless and resourceful investigations have won him acclaim at various festivals; dGenerate distributes two of his most well-regarded titles, Using and The Transition Period. His most recent work is achieving even greater levels of recognition.

Last month, the Taiwan Golden Horse Film Festival awarded its Best Documentary prize to Zhou’s newest film, Cotton. In this feature, Zhou profiles a farmer, a cotton picker and workers in cotton factories, who represent the unseen labor behind China’s cotton industry.

Last week, the Sundance Institute announced that Zhou’s upcoming film The Chinese Mayor will have its world premiere in the Sundance International Film Festival’s World Documentary Competition. In this feature, Zhou closely follows Mayor Geng Yanbo, who is determined to transform the coal-mining center of Datong, in China’s Shanxi province, into a tourism haven showcasing clean energy. In order to achieve that, however, he has to relocate 500,000 residences to make way for the restoration of the ancient city.

Heartiest congratulations to Zhou Hao on his recent and continued success.

Environmental Filmmaking in China Profiles Wang Jiuliang, Jian Yi

December 8th, 2014

For the Associated Press, Louise Watt reports on the impact that environmental filmmakers are having in China. Among those profiled in the report are Wang Jiuliang and Jian Yi, whose previous environmental films are distributed by dGenerate: Beijing Besieged by Waste by Wang and What’s for Dinner? by Jian.

Wang Jiuliang discusses his new film "Plastic China." (photo credit: Associated Press)

Wang Jiuliang discusses his new film “Plastic China.” (photo credit: Associated Press)

An excerpt from the report:

One clip shows a girl swatting flies from a younger child among piles of trash. Another has children blowing up used medical gloves like balloons.

The footage is on the computer screen of Wang Jiuliang as he edits his second film about waste harming China’s environment.

He’s already in discussions to show it on the main state-run broadcaster and answering calls from state media reporters who want to interview him. This in a country where independent filmmakers critical of the government generally face censorship, harassment or worse.

Environmental filmmakers continue to be hassled at the local level — Wang said he has been chased by dogs, threatened and punched — but their work apparently is being tolerated nationally because it aligns with the Communist Party leadership’s new priority of fighting pollution.

Read the full article at AP.

Chinese Independent Film Lives On – A Photo Essay by Karin Chien

December 2nd, 2014

Earlier this month, dGenerate Films’ Founder and President Karin Chien attended the 11th China Independent Film Festival (CIFF) in Nanjing. Many did not think the festival could happen.

In 2012, CIFF was shut down by the authorities. In 2013, the organizers carefully screened only 10 feature films and one documentary. Then, earlier this year, the Beijing Independent Film Festival (BIFF), known to show more politically sensitive films than CIFF, was violently repressed, the organizers detained, and their archive of over 1500 independent films confiscated.

Yet, from November 15-20, CIFF’s organizers managed to pull off the only festival of independent Chinese films in mainland China this year.

Below, Karin chronicles her visit to CIFF, as well as to the BIFF offices and to the opening ceremony of a new festival, the 2nd China Women’s Film Festival.


Documentary director Xu Tong (FORTUNE TELLER) answers questions about his latest film CUT OUT THE EYES, which tells the story of a blind traveling musician in Inner Mongolia. A classroom at Nanjing University of the Arts served as one of four screening venues for the 2014 China Independent Film Festival (CIFF). Because the festival was not widely publicized, in order not to draw attention from the authorities, the majority of the audience were students who saw the posters and programs around campus. Read the rest of this entry »

Filmmaker Wu Wenguang visits UC Santa Cruz

October 27th, 2014

Next week the University of California, Santa Cruz will host two events centered around the visit to University of California, Santa Cruz of Wu Wenguang, one of China’s leading independent documentary makers, and three artists (Zhang


Mengqi, Li Xinmin, Zou Xueping) from the Caochangdi Workshop in Beijing.

The two events are:

1) Tuesday, Nov. 4, 7 pm, Public screening of Children’s Village (2012) by Zou Xueping, part of Caochangdi’s Folk Memory Project on China’s Great Famine (1959-1961), followed by discussion with Wu Wenguang and the Caochangdi artists. Location: Communications 150, Studio C, University of California, Santa Cruz.

2) Wednesday, Nov. 5, 10 am – 1pm, CDAR (Center for Documentary Arts and Research) post-realist seminar which offers a great opportunity for in-depth and close-range discussion with the Caochangdi group on issues of documentary field work, remembering, and collective choreography.

Registration required. Contact Jonathan Kahana (jkahana at ucsc.edu) or Alex Johnston (alwjohns at ucsc.edu).

Location: Communications 150, Studio D, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Beijing Independent Film Festival: Video and Summary of Reports

September 5th, 2014

The Chinese Film Festival Studies Research Network has posted a helpful collection of links to news reports, statements and other information related to the closing of the Beijing Independent Film Festival last August. Also included are statements from festival organizer Li Xianting listing a timeline of his interactions with authorities prior to the shutdown and an official response (in Chinese) from the Festival to the authorities.  The site also links to a Chinese-language editorial by independent film producer and programmer Zhang Xianmin on the current difficulties facing independent film festivals in China, originally published in the Chinese edition of the New York Times.

Scott E. Myers, PhD Candidate of the University of Chicago, also contributed his first-person account of what happened on the day of the shutdown. Below is video footage of locals confronting festival attendees that day, posted on the YouTube account of filmmaker and festival organizer Wang Wo.