Monday, April 16th at 7:00p.m., 9:30p.m.
Tuesday, April 17th at 7:00p.m., 9:30p.m.
Oxhide II at The Trylon, Minneapolis
By Christen Cornell
Note: Beijing Besieged by Waste will screen at the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) Film Expo, Friday March 16 2012 in the Sheraton Centre Toronto, as part of the AAS Annual Meeting. Q&A session to follow. The film is available as part of the dGenerate Films catalog.
Full schedule and details for the AAS Film Expo.
The Fringes of Beijing B02
In October 2008, photographer Wang Jiuliang began a project investigating waste disposal in and around Beijing. Following the trucks that collected his daily rubbish, he discovered eleven large-scale refuse landfills scattered around the close suburbs of the city, each one growing daily alongside the skyscrapers, housing developments, and general urban boom that surrounded them.
Originally from Heilongjiang, Ji Dan is a documentary filmmaker who has worked extensively in both China and Japan. Her past works include Spirit Home (2006), Dream of the Empty City (2007), and Spiral Staircase of Harbin (2008), which was awarded prizes at both the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival and the China Documentary Film Festival.
Ji Dan’s most recent work, When The Bough Breaks, is a remarkably intimate account of a family of migrant trash scavengers living in Beijing and the bitter struggle of two young girls to send their little brother to school, against all odds and in the wake of their older sister’s disappearance. The day after When The Bough Breaks made its North America premiere at MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight, I spoke to Ji Dan in New York about the family depicted in When The Bough Breaks, her unique approach to filming and getting involved in the lives of her subjects, her mutual appreciation of theater and documentary, and what it’s like being one of Chinese documentary’s few female directors.
In the post-1990 era, Chinese cinema has seen a return of the amateur filmmaker. Restrictions after the Tiananmen square demonstrations have produced an edgy underground film movement loosely referred to as the Sixth Generation. Lacking in state funding and backing, these films were shot often quickly and inexpensively, using materials like 16mm film and or digital video with mostly non-professional actors and actresses. Set broadly across genres, these offerings are representative of both urban and rural life, vividly depicting the diversity of perspectives that comprise contemporary Chinese society. These selected films deal with an array of political, social, economic, and historical issues that are extremely important in China today. (more…)
This week dGenerate Films, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Grinnell College proudly present acclaimed filmmaker Ji Dan, screening her newest documentary When the Bough Breaks.
Dubbed “one of the most important female filmmakers in China” by the Rotterdam Film Festival, Ji Dan spent three years following a migrant worker family living in the outskirts of Beijing, as the family’s three children fight against all odds – including their own parents – to continue their education and pursue a better future. The family’s tense exchanges are captured as two headstrong girls try to negotiate a path to independence, security, and adulthood, revealing how some children are forced to make their own way in the world. The film climaxes in perhaps the most dramatically stunning Chinese New Year family scene ever recorded.
Fujian Blue is a thrilling narrative portrayal of reckless youth, corruption, and heartache in of southern China’s most telling social environments.
A full review by Mike Fu can be found here:
“Subtropical reveries of money, sex, and power dominate the golden triangle of southern China in this gritty neorealist drama from Robin Weng (Weng Shouming). Featuring idyllic natural landscapes side by side with Fujian province’s urban sprawl, Weng’s narrative follows a group of young hoodlums circulating carefree in a vapid nightlife of karaoke bars and dance halls. By day, they pursue a more malicious endeavor to extort money from local housewives, whose husbands have made their fortunes abroad and left them floundering at home. The film opens contrasting rows of decrepit houses with breathtaking mansions, reminiscent of a southern Californian suburb, glistening beneath the sun. Already the dichotomy of contemporary Chinese society becomes apparent: the rift between haves and have-nots threatens to grow ever wider, and the stakes only become higher for a younger generation willing to risk everything.”
By Maya E. Rudolph
No. 89 Shimen Road will screen tonight in Chicago at 7pm as part of the Doc Films Monday Series: A Selection of Chinese Independent Cinema
Shu Haolun‘s 2010 coming-of-age film No. 89 Shimen Road presents an archetypical study of longings and movements, rhapsodizing the personal and political as a long form narrative reminiscence. The story unfolds in 1989 Shanghai, from the shutter of Xiaoli, a high school student and self-proclaimed aspiring Henri Cartier-Bresson. Xiaoli largely ignores the revisionist propaganda he’s fed at school, preferring to document his world – elderly “uncles” chewing over the nightmares of the recent past, daily life in the longtang where he lives with his grandfather, and his friend Lanmi, an alluring neighbor who becomes the very embodiment of his teenage lust – in black and white stills that he sends to his mother in America.
Li Hongqi’s award-winning black comedy Winter Vacation is labeled “Crucial Viewing” by the Chicago Cine-file blog. Winter Vacation screens Monday at University of Chicago’s Doc Films at 7pm. Screening details here.
Patrick Friel writes in Cine-file:
Set in a small industrial town and primarily concerned with a group of disaffected teen boys and their families, WINTER VACATION draws inevitable comparisons to the work of Jia Zhang-ke (PLATFORM, THE WORLD, STILL LIFE, 24 CITY) in its insistent and idiosyncratic look at modern China. But Jia’s films are downright baroque compared to the minimalist style of Li. The film is slow and features little action – more often than not the characters are sitting quite still or standing stationary – and Li’s compositions and long shots favor empty space and the generic, sterile surroundings (both inside and out), but once one is used to the pacing and visual bareness, one begins to see a rich vein of emotion laying just below the surface of the characters’ lives. Li’s formal elements provide considerable insight into the desperation and stasis they feel (and are actually quite stunning). While his film is part of a larger wave of recent Chinese cinema that is offering a serious critique of contemporary society there, it is also doing so through a delightfully acerbic use of humor. It is a dryly-comic film; the humor creeps up unexpectedly, maintaining a disciplined restraint to match the minimalism of every other aspect of the film. But, a few times, it bursts forth and bites you in the ass, providing (for me at least) several uncontrollable genuine belly laughs. Who says severe minimalism can’t be fun?
Fortune Teller in TORONTO (Nov. 10th, 8:45 pm), as an offical Selection of the 15th Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival
“An exhaustive case history on the marginalization of the poor and disabled under Chinese capitalism” – Ronnie Scheib, Variety
“Complete immersion into their deceptively simple world in the countryside of northern China” – Ada Tseng, Asia Pacific Arts
What is fortune but the timely collisions of people? In Fortune Teller, a candid and deeply revelatory look at individuals living on the fringes of Chinese society, the consequences of these collisions are unflinchingly peeled back and observed.
In Fortune Teller, Xu Tong continues his work documenting the members of China’s underclass, whose lives have gone largely unnoticed during the country’s boom years. Xu spent a year filming nearly every detail of Li’s daily existence and the ancient spiritual practices he administers. The camera catches every raw and familiar strand of human desire in these ordinary people’s extraordinary lives, at once epic and startling. Li’s humble story is punctuated by chapter headings reminiscent of Qing Dynasty popular fiction, further adding to the sheen of melodrama that so readily imitates real life.
Read more about Fortune Teller, please visit:
For more information about its screening in Reel Asian, please visit: