Archive for the ‘dGenerate News’ Category

Review: Yang Mingming’s Female Directors

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

By Josh Feola 

Courtesy of Icarus Films

Courtesy of Icarus Films

This review contains spoilers.

Yang Mingming’s 2012 debut Female Directors, a documentary-style narrative centered on the fractious but durable relationship between two young, underemployed film school graduates in Beijing, lends itself to the kind of one-dimensional feminist reading that reviewers have used to unlock the ostensible themes of Yang’s often tongue-in-cheek mockumentary. A number of reviewers have noted Yang’s use of a handheld digital camera — functionally the film’s third character, as it frequently changes hands between the film’s two protagonists — as a deliberate reversal of the male gaze. This consideration and the fact that there are no male characters in the film, aids the films’ explicit address questions of gender in contemporary Chinese society, both criticizing and reinforcing gender norms.

Rather than assess Female Directors based on the gender identities of its director and lead actresses — Yang performs as “Ah Ming” alongside her collaborator Guo Yue, who acts as “Yueyue” — a broader approach seeks to find the film’s meaning in its technical execution, a spare and brilliant adaptation of cinéma vérité style, exposing truth concealed by artifice, and offering an incisive look into the ritually self-obsessed nature of young Chinese creatives.


Infidelity and duplicity are recurring themes in Female Directors. The plot, insofar as there is one, hinges around the early revelation that Ah Ming and Yueyue, aspiring directors and best friends who’ve seemingly made a pact to film their every moment together with the ultimate goal of creating a documentary, discover that they’ve both been having an affair with the same married man. This wealthy adulterer, an invisible narrative prop from Guangdong, is never seen nor heard, and only ever referred to by the nickname “Short Stuff”. As the story progresses, Ah Ming and Yueyue reveal details about their relationship with Short Stuff, sometimes as barbed lies, others as revelations that evoke sympathy. Yueyue, we discover, has been sleeping with Short Stuff in exchange for the promise of receiving a Beijing hukou — a residence permit that would grant her considerable municipal benefits. Ah Ming, who coldly insinuates that Yueyue is no better than a prostitute, herself accepts a 16,000 RMB (roughly $2,500) “loan” from Short Stuff to make a film.


Three New Titles Added to dGenerate Films Collection

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
Mothers (dir. Xu Huijing)

Mothers (dir. Xu Huijing)

We are happy to announce three new additions to the dGenerate Films collection, released by Icarus Films just in time for the new school year!

Sterilization quotas seem like the stuff of science fiction–but they are all too real as documented in the shocking exposé Mothers, a film by Xu Huijing that offers a powerful feminist perspective, as we watch men developing and enforcing reproductive policies for women.

Meat is central to the daily meals of billions of people, yet the enormous environmental, climate, public health, ethical, and human impacts of its consumption are remain largely undocumented. Jian Yi’s new short film What’s For Dinner? explores this terrain in fast-globalizing China through the eyes of a pig farmer in rural Jiangxi province; a vegan restaurateur in Beijing; a bullish young livestock entrepreneur; and residents of the infamous Chinese region nicknamed “the world’s meat factory.”

It was 12 o’clock at night when police knocked on the door for a “room inspection.” “I turned on a small camcorder. This film is the record of that visit,” explains Zhu Rikun–filmmaker, distributor, and artistic director of the Beijing Independent Documentary Festival–of his explosive short film The Questioning.

These three new films are part of the dGenerate Films Collection at Icarus Films, as well as IcarusFilms’ extensive collections of documentary films on Chinese StudiesAsian Studies,Women’s Studies, and Environmental Studies. The dGenerate collection also contains narrative films.

To preview or purchase these or any other IcarusFilms titles, contact Nina Riddel: (718) 488-8900 – nina [at]

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:


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.


New Contact Information for dGenerate Films

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Following the announcement of dGenerate’s new partnership with Icarus Films, here is dGenerate’s new office and contact information:

dGenerate Films
c/o Icarus Films
32 Court Street, 21st Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Tel 1.718.488.8900
Fax 1.718.488.8642

As always, you can keep track of the latest dGenerate news by following our Facebook page, Twitter feed and our website.

dGenerate Films Announces Exciting Partnership with Icarus Films

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Hello all!

Big news here on the dGenerate front that we wanted to share with you. We’ve entered into a distribution partnership with Icarus Films, who have been releasing documentary and art films for nearly 30 years, and will be the exclusive distributor of dGenerate films moving forward. Karin, Kevin, Dan and myself are very excited for this opportunity for us to expand on our mission to expose as many people out there to the invaluable films and groundbreaking filmmakers we have the honor of distributing. Icarus will establish the dGenerate Films Collection, which will live within their catalog of 1000+ films and next to makers such as Chantal Akerman, Chris Marker, Patricio Guzman and many more. It’s quite an honor to be included in such fine company.

From here on out, Icarus will be taking over much of our operational responsibilities, including sales fulfillment and marketing. We are in the progress of migrating all of this to Icarus, so some of the ways you’ve engaged with us prior will be changing (and evolving!). We’ll make sure to keep you updated as we go via our blog. And lest you worry, we’ll still be on the hunt to acquire more of the films that put that put Chinese independent cinema on the radar screen of tastemakers like Icarus and yourselves.

Feel free to contact us with any questions, you should notice nothing but positive change as we’re able to tap into the expertise of Jonathan Miller and his team at Icarus. On behalf of all of the dGenerate team, present and past, thanks for helping dGenerate Films get here.

Much Gratitude,

Brent, Karin, Kevin and the dGenerate Films team

P.S. Read on for the press release on this announcement.



Cinema Scope Magazine Honors Chinese Filmmakers among “50 Best Filmmakers Under 50”

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

To celebrate its 50th issue, Cinema Scope has compiled a list of fifty directors under 50 who represent “the future of cinema.” Much to the pride and delight of all those who champion Chinese voices in contemporary cinema, Cinema Scope has chosen to honor several significant Chinese filmmakers: Liu Jiayin, director of Oxhide and Oxhide II, Zhao Liang, director of Petition and Crime and Punishment, Pema Tseden the Tibetan director of Old Dog, Jia Zhangke, director of such films as Unknown Pleasures and The World, as well as the 2008 documentary Dong, and Wang Bing, director of Coal Money and Man With No Name.

Director Liu Jiayin and her parents in "Oxhide"

Profiling Liu Jiayin, Andréa Picard praises Liu and the Oxhide series, musing “Who was this filmmaker who so maturely delineated the space of her imagination, carving a humanist monument from next to nothing?”
On these remarkable films that measuredly unfold an intimate world of family minutiae, Picard discusses Liu’s “carefully calibrated yet warmly sensual sound and image construction, a droll humanism, and, ultimately, a feisty hopefulness.”


Zhao Liang

Zhao Liang, called a “poet of justice” by reviewer Albert Serra, is described as an artist who “cannot simply describe social injustices, lies, abuses of power…because as an author he’s realized that “reality” itself is unjust and abusive. And it’s absurd to find a way to fight against it because reality has as much power as the “system” does in China.” Of the careful examination of power and artistry at play in Zhao’s Crime and Punishment and Petition, as well as his dedication to pulling back the layers of the grueling injustices of Chinese beaurocracy, Serra writes: “With any other topic he could have been involuntarily serving the propaganda of what he’s criticizing, but the issue of the absence of justice turns our hearts with so much power that this is impossible.”


Disorder, Beijing Besieged By Waste Among Critic’s Top Picks of 2011

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

"Disorder" (dir. Huang Weikai)

Sight and Sound‘s annual account of the year’s cinematic highlights featured two dGenerate titles, spotlighting some of the brightest and boldest Chinese indies in recent memory.

Critic Jonathan Rosenbaum selected Huang Weikai‘s Disorder as one of his most memorable cinematic experiences of the past year, praising the film as a “Guangzhou city symphony culled from street footage by many hands and a major example of recent Chinese independent cinema.”

Wang Jiuliang‘s Beijing Besieged By Waste appeared on the list of critic Sukhdev Sandhu, who called the film “eerie and urgent.” Sandhu goes on to address “One image – of the splayed yet oddly restful corpse of a man who had assembled a tiny shack amidst an enormous wasteland – has haunted me like no other in 2011.”


Fujian Blue Available on Comcast On-Demand in January

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

"Fujian Blue" (dir. Weng Shuoming)

dGenerate Films is pleased to announce that Robin Weng Shuoming‘s Fujian Blue will be available to rent for all Comacast Cable on-demand subscribers during the month of January.

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.”


Beijing’s Ring of Garbage: Wang Jiuliang Profiled in Global Times

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Wang Jiuliang focuses his camera in a Beijing landfill

A recent article in the Global Times addresses the sprawling landfills surrounding Beijing that inspired Wang Jiuliang‘s documentary Beijing Besieged By Waste.

Feng Shu reports:

Wang spent months tracking garbage trucks to hundreds of the city’s legal landfill sites, illegal garbage dumps and recycling centers. He took more than 10,000 photographs and shot more than 60 hours of video.

Wang’s original idea was to discuss the environmental hazard of over-consumption. He focused on garbage as the “evidence” and decided it was time to ring the alarm.

“Few people know just how much garbage there is in this city, all of these photos and videos I shot show just how urgent this matter is,” said Wang…