Interview with filmmaker Vivian Qu in Film Comment

April 15th, 2014
Trap Street (2013, Vivian Qu)

Trap Street (2013, Vivian Qu)

In Film Comment magazine, Xin Zhou interviews Vivian Qu, a longtime producer of Chinese independent films who recently debuted her first directorial effort, Trap Street. Excerpts:

Q. How did the story come about? It starts as a story about a man tracking
a woman, then slowly becomes a psychodrama.

A. What I wanted to portray in the first place was this feeling of
watching and being watched, which has obviously become one of the most significant characteristics of modern life. Since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, this feeling has been reinforced, distorted, and multiplied in many different ways. What propelled such a phenomenon? Can we even find out? The paradox is, today’s technology should enable us to discover truth, but it’s never been this difficult to tell the real from the unreal. I didn’t want my film to be a simple record of a particular event; I want it to be a synthesis of my thoughts and observations. Even if I cannot find the answer, at least I can raise the question: does 90 percent freedom amount to true freedom?

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Chinese Visual Festival in London Announces Lineup

April 14th, 2014
A Touch of Sin (2012, Jia Zhangke)

A Touch of Sin (2012, Jia Zhangke)

The London Chinese Visual Festival (CVF) is proud to announce its 2014 edition, which runs from May 7th – 18th at King’s College London, with events also being held at Riverside Studios in collaboration with DocHouse.

For 2014, the festival is thrilled to welcome two of the most important filmmakers in modern independent Chinese language cinema, Jia Zhangke and Pema Tseden. In addition to a preview of his latest work, the award winning A Touch of Sin at the BFI, Jia will also host a very special screening session at King’s of his rarely seen short films. Acclaimed Tibetan director Pema Tseden opens the festival with Old Dog, as well as screening his other works and taking part in panel discussion sessions on Tibetan Culture and filmmaking. CVF is also delighted to be collaborating with Newcastle University in holding a celebration of ten years of the China Independent Film Festival (CIFF), one of the most vital and enduring Chinese language film events. To help mark this remarkable anniversary, CVF will be hosting a special animation session, as well as welcoming CIFF’s Cao Kai and Zhang Xianmin for what promises to be a fascinating panel discussion.

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Filmmaking and Activism with Cui Zi’en in Chicago

April 10th, 2014
"Queer China, 'Comrade' China" (dir. Cui Zi'en)

“Queer China, ‘Comrade’ China” (dir. Cui Zi’en)

From the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago:

Documentary Filmmaking and/as Activism in East Asia

Please join us for three days of film screenings and discussion with three
of East Asia’s leading independent filmmakers at the University of Chicago.

Venue for all film screenings: Rm 157, Cochrane Woods Art Center, 5540 S.
Greenwood Ave.

Monday, April 14, 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Featured Visiting Director: Cui Zi’en

Novelist, scholar, and Beijing Film Academy professor Cui Zi’en is a
pioneering figure in China’s queer arts and social movement. A driving
force behind the Beijing Queer Film Festival, Cui has made numerous
fiction and documentary films on the subjects of sexual and gender
identity, migrant workers, and public space. In his experimental films,
literary works and political activism, Cui’s provocative portrayals of
queerness open up new possibilities of community and cultural pluralism
that challenge nationalism as the hegemonic discourse of identity in
contemporary China.

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100 Best Mainland Chinese Films Poll Spotlights dGenerate Titles

April 9th, 2014
"Oxhide II" (dir. Liu Jiayin)

“Oxhide II” (dir. Liu Jiayin)

The sister publications Time Out Beijing and Time Out Shanghai recently conducted an international poll of 88 Chinese filmmakers, scholars, professionals and other experts to compile a list of the 100 greatest films made in Mainland China. They have presented the results in generous fashion, with a multi-page, suspense-building countdown of the 100 films with brief introductions to each. The countdown begins here; the list can also be accessed in complete form here.

We at dGenerate were pleased to see that six titles in the dGenerate collection placed in the poll:  Oxhide (#27), Oxhide II (#63), Winter Vacation (#74), Disorder (#80), Karamay (#86), and Fortune Teller (#88). Congratulations to directors Liu Jiayin, Li HongqiHuang Weikai, Xu Xin and Xu Tong on making the list. We also congratulate directors Jia Zhangke and Ying Liang, who are also represented in the dGenerate collection, on making the list with their films (Jia alone had seven titles on the list).

Included among the 88 contributors to the poll are three members of dGenerate who submitted their top tens. Their names and ballots are listed below, and also on the Time Out website.

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Reel China at NYU Film Biennial This Weekend

April 9th, 2014

Screen-Shot-2014-03-31-at-11.26.26-AMReel China@NYU 7th Film Biennial
Friday, April 11 – Sunday, April 13

Reel China 2014 once again samples outstanding contemporary Chinese
independent documentaries, while also showcasing a few innovative
narrative and experimental films, using different kinds of media or
technology, by emerging filmmakers in China, Hong Kong, and the diaspora.
Several are award-winning films from the Beijing Independent Film Festival
(BIFF), our long-term collaborator in China.  Participating filmmakers
range from more experienced documentarians to young novices.  As their
disparate visions and voices extend and overlap, we witness the persistent
presence of independent cameras that assures the discovery and creative
engagement of disorienting contemporary social and psychic fragments
becoming history at breakneck speed.

Film descriptions follow after the break – full schedule and details can be found at the NYU Center for Religion and Media.

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Updates from Chinese Film Fest Studies

April 9th, 2014

Chinese film scholars Chris Berry and Luke Robinson, who manage the website Chinese Film Fest Studies, offer the following recent updates to the site:

NEWS: We have an item via Screen Daily that discusses the popularity of
the French Online Film Festival in China. Additionally, we have
information on the tenth anniversary celebrations of the Nanjing-based
China Independent Film Festival, which will be taking place in May in the
UK. As part of the celebrations, films from the festival will be being
screened in Newcastle, Nottingham and London, with directors Feng Yan and
Pema Tseden in attendance. There will also be a symposium and exhibition
at Newcastle, at which Zhang Xianmin (BFA) and Cao Kai (CIFF) will both
speak. Details about the events in Newcastle and Nottingham can be found
on the website, under News. Further news about the London events to follow.

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China Independent Film Festival Celebrates 10th Anniversary in UK

March 18th, 2014

6450755The 10th Anniversary of the China Independent Film Festival UK Celebration will take place between 12May 2014 and 15 May 2014 in Newcastle. It is organized by the China Independent Film Festival and the University of Newcastle in partnership with the University of Nottingham and the China Visual Festival. The celebratory event in Newcastle consists of retrospective screenings of CIFF awarded films, an exhibition – A Decade of the CIFF and a workshop – Film Festival in Focus. The four-day event in Newcastle will provide the audience a festival-like celebratory atmosphere and the most exciting gathering of Chinese independent documentaries, fictions and animations. Screenings will go on tour to Nottingham and London.

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Call for Papers: Unthinking Asian Migration

March 11th, 2014


Un-thinking Asian Migrations: Spaces of flows and intersections

25-26 August 2014, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

The Asian Migrations Research Theme is a collective of scholars working in Asian Studies at the University of Otago. The Asian Migrations Research Theme focuses on movements of peoples and ideas––past and present––in East, South, and South-East Asia and into the Pacific (encompassing the Pacific Islands, Australia, and New Zealand). It engages with the fields of diaspora, intercultural, global, and transnational studies, which have grown over the last twenty years to become key frameworks for understanding culture beyond the boundaries of one nation. We see significant shortcomings in the current theories and methodologies of Asian migration and diaspora and especially in their application to the Asia-Pacific region. Our focus on Asian migrations allows us to highlight and address these shortcomings and to develop new approaches. The goal of the Theme is to develop a theoretical and methodological framework for understanding the Asia-Pacific region as comprised by movements of peoples, ideas, and commodities.
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“The Errol Morris of China:” Article and Presentation on Hu Jie in Portland

February 24th, 2014
Hu Jie

Hu Jie

On February 28, Professor Jennifer Ruth of Portland State University will give a presentation on international acclaimed documentary film maker Hu Jie and his work. The presentation, titled  “On Thinking for Oneself in Mao’s China” will show clips from three of his films: Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul; My Mother Wang Peiying; and Spark.

In the current issue of Propeller Magazine, Professor Ruth profiles Hu, whom she describes as “the Errol Morris or Claude Lanzmann of China.” She writes:

Hu Jie finds individuals who lived through situations that seem to defy representation and creates an atmosphere in which they can tell their stories—in some cases, for the first time. As his interviewees grow more expansive with the soft-spoken Hu, the audience watches them shed years of trauma. In startlingly intimate sequences, individuals reconcile themselves to the wronged lives they’ve lived, performing the excruciating but powerful psychological work of turning wounds and scars into cautionary tales and object lessons.

Writing about Hu’s film Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul, Ruth reflects on the struggles of those such as Lin Zhao, a victim of persecution during the Cultural Revolution, and others who sought to think and speak independently during the Maoist era:

Lin Zhao’s steadfastness in the face of extreme pressure attracted Hu Jie to her story, but so did the simple fact of her ability to think clearly when so many others couldn’t. “This girl continued to think for herself when the rest of China stopped thinking,” he says at the beginning of Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul. How does one retain one’s critical capacity when under enormous psychological and physical pressure to conform to ideology? How does one hold onto right and wrong when one can no longer freely test one’s impressions among others? Whereas Hannah Arendt explained how easy it is to stop thinking in Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hu Jie shows how hard it can be to continue to think in films like Searching for Lin Zhao’s SoulMy Mother Wang PeiyingEast Wind FarmThough I am Gone, and Spark.


Read the full article on Propeller.

Hu Jie’s films Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul, Though I Am Gone and East Wind State Farm are available through the dGenerate Films Collection.

Event Details:

Friday, February 28, 2014 at 6:30-8:00 PM in SBA 490
(631 SW Harrison Street, Portland, OR 97201)
Presentation: “On Thinking for Oneself in Mao’s China”  by Dr. Jennifer Ruth, Professor of English at Portland State University Sponsored by the Confucius Institute of Portland State University


“Hu Jie on Thinking for Oneself in Mao’s China,” Portland, February 28

February 24th, 2014
Hu Jie

Hu Jie

The Confucius Institute at PSU Friday Event Series presents

a lecture:

Hu Jie on Thinking for Oneself in Mao’s China”

by Jennifer Ruth, Associate Professor of Literature at Portland State University.

Friday, February 28, 2014
6:30 PM 
Location:  PSU School of Business Administration Building, Lecture Hall 490
631 SW Harrison Street, Portland OR 97201

This talk will introduce the audience to acclaimed Chinese documentary filmmaker Hu Jie’s work and show clips from three of his films:

  • Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul,
  • My Mother Wang Peiying,
  • and Spark.

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