Archive for the ‘China Today’ Category

Director Ying Liang Threatened by Police, Is Safe in Hong Kong

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Ying Liang (photo credit: Wenjei Cheng)

Ying Liang, the director of Taking Father Home, Good Cats, and The Other Half and a leading figure in the world of independent Chinese cinema, has reportedly had police visit his family in Shanghai. Ying, who is in Hong Kong, has been threatened with arrest if he returns to China. The harassment began following a screening of his most recent narrative feature, When Night Falls at the Jeonju Film Festival in South Korea. Writing for The New Yorker, Richard Brody reports:

The film that got Ying in trouble is his latest, “When Night Falls,” which, according to [Malaysian filmmaker and blogger Edmund] Yeo, was shown in the Jeonju film festival, in South Korea. Yeo’s post has a wide range of details about the film and the case. The movie is based on the true story of a man who was “executed in 2008 for murdering six policemen with a knife in a Shanghai police station after being arrested and beaten for riding an unlicensed bicycle.”

Yeo quotes from Ying’s post on Facebook, which states that, after the film was shown in Jeonju, his family, in Shanghai, and his wife’s family, in Sichuan, were visited and intimidated by the Chinese police, who then tried “to buy the copyright of the film” in Korea for an extraordinarily high price. Ying adds that he returned to Hong Kong (where he is currently working) and learned that he would be arrested if he goes back to China.


James Cameron on Chinese Filmmakers: “I’m not interested in their reality.”

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

"Titianic 3D" in China (courtesy

James Cameron, director of Avatar and Titanic, deep-sea explorer, and self-proclaimed “king of the world” was in Beijing earlier this week attending the Beijing International Film Festival. He spoke with Edward Wong of The New York Times and Gady Epstein of The Economist about his involvement in China, the numbers game of US-China co-productions, and the avalanche of Avatar the future may hold.

Wong, Epstein, and Cameron also discussed the censorship and quotas governing theatrical releases in China:

NYT: You must have had people talk to you to give you a briefing on the censorship process, about how it works or how it’s affected certain films here. Do you have any general thoughts on that?

Cameron: As an artist, I’m always against censorship. But censorship’s a reality, even in the U.S. We have a form of it there. We used to have the Hays commission. We now have the M.P.A.A. ratings system, which is basically a self-censorship process that prevents government from doing it. But the economic imperatives are that if you get an R rating, the studio won’t make a film that looks like it’s headed toward an R rating, and if you get a R you’ve got to cut it yourself to comply with PG-13. So it’s really just a form of censorship indirectly.”

NYT: Do you consider that the same as Chinese censorship?

Cameron: You’ve got a little more choice in it. It’s not as draconian. But I can’t be judgmental about another culture’s process. I don’t think that’s healthy.


“Does The Art Movement Exist?”

Friday, May 4th, 2012 announced that the ISAAS (Indie Screening Alliance of Art Space), an initiative founded in 2011 by (dGenerate Films consultant) Zhang Xianmin to promote independent film and contemporary art in China, will launch a 2012 series beginning this June. The theme of this roving art and cinema show will be “Does the Art Movement Exist?”

Does The Art Movement Exist?


The Future In Chinawood

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

In spite of a recent S.E.C. investigation into possible bribes proffered by Hollywood studios seeking a lucrative foothold in the Chinese film industry, plans to ramp up China-US co-productions seem to be rolling full steam ahead. For perhaps the first time, the future of US-China co-production efforts has a name, albeit a slightly obvious one. It’s the age of “Chinawood.”

And pretty soon, it’ll have a face, too. According to Clifford Coonan of Variety, a $1.27 billion facility that will serve as a “co-production film financing platform, a co-production service center with post facilities, a facility for 3D conversion and a distribution and marketing center” is being constructed outside of Tianjin. The Chinawood behemoth, which is being built approximately a thirty-minute train ride outside central Beijing,


Overheated China: Hollywood, the S.E.C., and Chinese Film

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

According to a New York Times article by Edward Wyatt, Michael Cieply, and Brooke Barnes, the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into whether or not, in the mad dash for Hollywood to capitalize on China’s developing production infrastructure and vast box office potential, American studio may have paid off Chinese officials to secure footing in the Chinese film industry.

The Times reports:

The inquiry creates a potential roadblock for the industry’s plans to expand in one of the world’s largest markets.

The S.E.C. investigation has so far focused on at least three studios, the person said, but all of the largest and some smaller studios have been contacted or made aware of the inquiry, according to the person, who has direct knowledge of the investigation but who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter could end up in court.


“Chinese Independent Filmmaking: Freedom is a State of Mind” Kevin Lee Interviewed in 3 dots water

Friday, April 20th, 2012

dGenerate’s own Kevin Lee was interviewed by Michèle Vicat of 3 dots water, a virtual publication of Chinese and global art. Discussing the origins and current state of affairs of contemporary Chinese documentary, as well as how and why dGenerate Films came to exist as it does, Kevin says of Chinese documentary films:

"Disorder" (dir. Huang Weikai)

What is interesting about these films is that they are by Chinese citizens who have become filmmakers. Their perspective is completely different. You really feel like you are watching from the inside, through the eyes of people who are personally invested. It is not a topical story, a sensational story that attracts western stereotypes about China. It is actually a very thorough, three-dimensional experience. You really get a sense of how these issues affect day-to-day life in China.


Ni Yulan and the Ongoing Struggle for Rights in Beijing

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Ni Yulan and her husband (courtesy AP)

Human rights lawyer Ni Yulan and her husband, Dong Jiqin, were jailed earlier this month on charges of “picking quarrels, provoking trouble and wilfully destroying private and public property.” Ni and her husband were initially detained nearly a year ago, amid a wave of Chinese intellectuals and activists being censured that coincided with the Arab Spring, and were imprisoned on ostensible fraud charges after what was described by Ni and Dong’s daughter as “an abnormal legal process.”

The BBC reports that Ni’s visibility as an advocate for property and human rights began in 2002, when her neighborhood in Beijing was demolished in anticipation of the 2008 Olympics:

She has been banned from working as a lawyer but she and her husband have continued to advise others whose land has been seized.

She was sentenced to a year in jail in 2002 for “obstructing official business” and to two years’ imprisonment in 2008 for “harming public property”.


@IndieFilmmakers, A Micro-Blog Roundup

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

To recognize commenting being restored on Chinese microblogging sites, we’ve once again rounded up some of our filmmaker’s micro-dispatches on Sina Weibo, China’s version of twitter. This month, some of China’s preeminent indie filmmakers weigh in on politics, international indie film, and funny hats:

On 4/7, Zhao Liang, director of Crime and Punishment, blogged:

This is my dream: I hope that China’s next generation of directors can – in any theater, in any film – say whatever is in their heart without fear. Our generation of filmmakers is working hard with the hope that the next generation will be free from fear.


Extreme Documentary: Ai Weiwei, Li Ning, and Voyeurism in Chinese Cinema

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

By Maya Eva Gunst Rudolph

A long time practitioner and advocate of self-documentation, Ai Weiwei made online waves last week when he installed a set of “self-surveillance” cameras to document his life and work via a live feed. Buttressing the demands for “transparency and openness” that characterize so much of Ai’s work, this project launched a tongue-in-cheek reaction to the government surveillance cameras that surround Ai’s home and workshop. Only days after mounting his latest “installation,” though, Ai was ordered to remove the cameras and the internet feed ceased to live.

The artist sleeps tonight on "Weiwei Cam"

In the aftermath of its short existence, the so-called “Weiwei Cam” has been discussed as everything from an exercise in artistic narcissism to a wry subversion of the Chinese government’s Big Brother-ing. It seems undeniable that at its crux, the camera project, launched to commemorate Ai’s eighty-one day detention last year, served as a kind of self-aware self-policing. After all, what harm could befall a man with the world’s eyes on him?

With the Weiwei cam censored last week, Ai tweeted, “The cameras have been shut down. Bye-bye to all the voyeurs,” sparking another school of thought on his act of radical transparency. A documentary filmmaker whose work often chronicles his own movements and artistic and activist efforts, Ai is no stranger to inviting public eyes to his personal dealings. For a figure such as Ai Weiwei for whom documentation is both a voluntary and involuntary way of life, much can be gleaned from this most recent experiment, which reflects a larger tendency of self-examination and voyeuriusm in Chinese documentary film. In effect, Ai Weiwei’s most recent project seems to fit into the greater scheme of self-documentation in Chinese cinema and a trend of what might be called extreme documentary.


The Apple Factory and the Real China

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

"Struggle" (dir. Shu Haolun)

Writer Mike Daisey was recently repudiated for fabricating numerous elements of his story “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory”, about working conditions at Foxconn, Apple’s Chinese supplier. The story ran last month on public radio’s This American Life, and quickly became the popular show’s most listened podcast of all time.