Archive for the ‘Chinese Cinema Today’ Category

Interview with Zhao Dayong on His New Film Premiering in Berlinale

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
Shadow Days (dir. Zhao Dayong)

Shadow Days (dir. Zhao Dayong)

Zhao Dayong, director of acclaimed documentaries Ghost Town and Street Life, is interviewed by the South China Morning Post in advance of the world premiere of his film Shadow Days at the Berlin Film Festival:

You started out as a documentary filmmaker. Why have you moved to fiction?

In reality, there is not much of a difference between documentary filmmaking and fiction, because I use the images to express things I want to say and stories I want to tell. It is not easy to express thoughts in a comfortable way through a documentary – you have to remain truthful to the complexities of these people’s real lives. Fiction is more free from these constraints, and much more effective.

You’ve portrayed solitude, hopelessness and the strength of human resilience in your previous work. What topics are you dealing with inShadow Days?

The main topic of all my documentaries and films has never changed: lives becoming shallower through economic development, the faith in and culture of cash, the destruction of a natural form of living, and helplessness and ignorance. Shadow Days is the story of a boy returning to a place where he thought he could live safely and raise a child, but then it all goes wrong. [His character’s fate] is something that is inevitable because of ignorance

Read the rest of the interview at the South China Morning Post.

Zhao Dayong’s films Ghost Town and Street Life are part of the dGenerate Films collection.

New Profile on Independent Filmmaker Hu Jie

Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Hu Jie stands beside his painting of Chinese dissident Lin Zhao. (photo: Matthew Bell)

Hu Jie stands beside his painting of Chinese dissident Lin Zhao. (photo: Matthew Bell)

For the radio program The World produced by Public Radio International, reporter Matthew Bell profiles Hu Jie, a Chinese independent filmmaker who “points his camera at the darkest moments in Communist Party history.”

Bell casts Hu’s work amidst the recent news of an ex-Communist Party Red Guard apologizing for the killing of her teacher during the Cultural Revolution, an incident examined in Hu’s documentary Though I Am Gone. Bell interviews Hu about the reasons for his explorations into the hidden stories of China’s recent history:


China Tightens Regulations on Online Films

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Microfilm director Wei Jiangang

Microfilm director Wei Jiangang

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Chinese authorities tightened their grip on the country’s nascent Internet video space this week, announcing new regulations that require producers of so-called digital “microfilms” to submit their real names when uploading content to local Internet video sites.

The government has been struggling to get a handle on as the burgeoning but difficult to regulate new media category of microfilms and web series, which are often quickly produced and consumed via smart phones. This week’s announcement follows a guideline issued by the SGAPPRFT in 2012 requiring Internet video providers to take responsibility for editing all microfilms before posting them. While most microfilms are meant to be consumed as light entertainment, some have touched upon politically sensitive issues and risqué topics. This week’s move further serves the government’s interest of controlling the online conversation in China.


Zhu Rikun in the New Statesman on Hazards for Chinese Indie Films

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

In the New Statesman, Chinese film producer, critic and programmer Zhu Rikun reflects on his turbulent experiences working with Chinese independent films, and the current state of “independent” filmmaking. Excerpts:

From 2000, changes in digital film technology and the development of the internet made production simpler and boosted independent film-making. Many works of value emerged. Ultimately, though, this lively period did not produce plentiful results. In the past two years, independent film-making has been lacklustre.

Nowadays, poignant and outstanding films cannot be distributed, such as Karamay, Xu Xin’s documentary about the 1994 theatre fire where audience members were not allowed to leave until Communist Party officials had been evacuated. Documentaries from Ai Weiwei’s studio rely on the internet and free DVDs to get a reaction. Few film festivals and screenings are interested. In academic and independent film circles they are seldom discussed. Disturbing the Peace (in which Ai confronts government officials about the arrest of his assistant) was watched widely because it was put on the internet. Some artists on the relative fringes of filmmaking, such as Ai Xiaoming, find it hard to get their works shown, because a lot of her films are about sensitive incidents or people.

At present, the best that artists can do is to persist as far as they can within the limitations of the system, but the results often lack creativity. Optimism would be misplaced. I still doubt whether there is a way out when there is clearly a lack of ideas or skills and when there is such a restrictive environment. Things will change if genuinely independent film-makers leave this circle and take responsibility themselves. Only then will there be a glimmer of hope.

Read the full article on The New Statesman.

Chinese Filmmakers’ Recent Challenges with Censorship

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Dan Edwards reports in Crikey on the recent challenges faced by Chinese filmmakers in dealing with censorship both at home and abroad:

As several Chinese filmmakers have recently found, alleged offences are often unclear and punitive restrictions can be imposed without notice or warning.


dGenerate Mentioned in NY Times Report on Beijing Indie Film Fest

Friday, September 14th, 2012

The New York Times reports on the troubles that met the 9th Beijing Independent Film Festival last month. Reporter Jonathan Landreth frames the events within the greater context of independent filmmaking in China amidst the the country’s development of commercial cinema, accompanied by strict regulatory guidelines over what kinds of films can be produced and distributed domestically:


Documentary Recommendations by China Film Experts, including dGenerate President Karin Chien

Friday, August 31st, 2012

On the website ChinaFile, six esteemed experts of Chinese cinema give their personal recommendations of China’s best independent documentaries. Nine films from the dGenerate catalog are mentioned; Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul earned three mentions, followed by Meishi Street and Disorder with two.

The lists of each Chinese film expert can be found after the break. Their accompanying comments can be found on ChinaFile. ChinaFile is a website project operated by the Asia Society Center on US-China Relations.


CinemaTalk: Conversation with Huang Ji, director of Egg and Stone

Friday, August 24th, 2012

By Kevin B. Lee

Last weekend the 9th Beijing Independent Film Festival opened with the domestic premiere of Egg and Stone, which won a Tiger Award for Best Feature Film at the Rotterdam International Film Festival earlier this year. The first feature directed by Huang Ji, the film is a loosely autobiographical account of a young girl’s traumatic experience of family sexual abuse in a rural village in Hunan province. The film was actually shot in Huang Ji’s home village.

Unfortunately, the screening of the film was interrupted by a power failure that shut down the venue, which occurred shortly after local officials requested the festival stop its activities, having not received official authorization to screen films. “I had prepared my heart for this possibility,” Huang Ji told me, “but I was still crushed when it happened.” The film was eventually screened in its entirety later that week at a private venue.

The following interview with Huang Ji took place at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in January. Interview translated by Heran Hao.


Two “Greatest Films” Polls Yield Different Results for Best Chinese Films

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

By Kevin B. Lee

This month the British film magazine Sight & Sound and the Chinese language film website both conducted international polls asking film critics and experts to choose their top ten films of all time. The key difference between them is that Sight & Sound polled 856 critics from around the world, whereas exclusively invited 135 critics who specialize in Chinese cinema. The two sets of results reveal significant differences between the tastes of Chinese and international film critics, particularly in regard to what they respectively consider to be the best Chinese films of all time.


Global Times Profiles Indie Film Venue in China and Films by Huang Weikai

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

In the Global Times, Lance Crayon profiles the Indie Film Forum launched by the Ullens Center for Contempoary Art in Beijing, one of the rare venues for screening Chinese independent films in China. Most recently the UCCA hosted director Huang Weikai as he screened and discussed his work.


The outpouring of Chinese documentaries over the past decade has inspired and impressed audiences all over the world. However, the problem for audiences on the Chinese mainland is that accessing such films isn’t always easy.