Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

dGenerate’s Karin Chien Featured on Filmwax Podcast

Monday, December 5th, 2011

"Little Moth" (dir. Peng Tao)

Check out this podcast: dGenerate president Karin Chien chats with Filmax Film Series director Adam Shartoff on the perks and pitfalls of indie filmmaking worldwide, our philosophy and where the name “dGenerate” comes from, and the uphill battle to bring Chinese independent cinema into world view.

Says Karin:

“The films that we’re distributing here take incredible risks and they’re able to because they do work completely out of the system in China and they don’t have these market pressures to bear as we do in the states. And in a way, that’s crippling when it comes to distribution, but also freeing when it comes to making the films.”

Filmwax, a screening series with an emphasis on Brooklyn-based filmmakers and ventures, recently hosted a mini-series of dGenerate fare: Jian Yi’s Super, Girls! and Peng Tao‘s Little Moth.

Kevin Lee Reports on Chinese Cinema Today for “Ebert Presents At the Movies”

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Check out a video produced by dGenerate’s own Kevin Lee for Ebert Presents: At The Movies:

Reporting on trends in the current Chinese cinema landscape, the video highlights three dGenerate titles representing the best Chinese independent documentary has to offer. Zhao Liang‘s Crime and Punishment, Ou Ning‘s Meishi Street, and Jian Yi‘s Super, Girls! Also discussed are Jian Yi’s recently defunct IFChina Original Studio and his approach to independent filmmaking in China.

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Cinematalk: Interview with Ying Qian of Harvard

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

By Michael Chenkin

Ying Qian

Ying Qian is a PhD candidate in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Qian’s area of focus involves examining the evolving documentary visions in 20th century China. She is interested in the social processes and “film thinking” that have enabled and shaped the making of documentary images, and the ways in which these images have provided framings, interventions and agencies to historical change.

Recently, Qian co-organized a conference titled “Just Images: Ethics and Chinese Documentary” at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard. We spoke with Qian about the highlights of the conference as well as her ongoing research in Chinese documentary.

dGF: Could you give a brief overview of your research? What are your specific interests within the field of documentary film study?

Ying Qian: I’m writing a dissertation on the history of Chinese documentary since the Mao era. I also write about documentary practices in the Republican period in my introduction chapter. My interest in documentary cinema was initiated by encounters with contemporary independent documentary, and I used to make my own documentary films as well.

In my dissertation, I try to move the timeline further back. When talking about contemporary documentary, critics would point out that these films are very different from the official practices and especially from the documentary practices of an earlier era. New documentaries do not usually have a “Voice-of-God” commentary; they also have different approaches to conceptualize reality and deal with contingency in filmmaking. These observations are clearly true; though I think the division between the past and the present is not so binary. When one examines the documentary productions in the Mao-era seriously, one finds some important continuities despite many ruptures. I see documentary of the present as multiple responses to the end of the Mao-era.

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The Future of Chinese Film Criticism

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
wang_yang.jpg

Wang Yang (photo credit: Grace Wang)

By Ariella Tai

In similar form to her fascinating report on Chinese Documentaries in her Chicago Sun Times-based blog, Grace Wang, has written of her search for the new face of Chinese film criticism. Somewhat surprisingly, that face belongs to a young former law student named Wang Yang, who is the founder of Youth Film Journal, the first independently published film journal in China today. This publication is virtually the only professional, non-academic, publication devoted to film criticism in contemporary China, despite the fact that the film industry is one of the fastest growing in the world, producing over 500 films in the past year.

Her extensive interview with Wang Yang reveals that, in China, there is a rapidly growing community of young, self-educated cinephiles who are hungry to write about film and share their ideas with others. As is the case with many young film critics in the modern era, both DVD and Internet culture have played an integral role in this development. Youth Film Journal provides an outlet for these voices, outside of academia or the mainstream hype bankrolled by studios. Yang provides an in-depth context for the Chinese film criticism scene and analyzes the potential of these young film critics to eventually; he hopes, compete with the current canon of criticism largely dominated by Western voices.

Several excerpts from the interview are copied after the break. For the full text, please visit Grace Wang’s blog on the Chicago Sun Times.

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Oxhide director Liu Jiayin interviewed on Artspace blog

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Oxhide II (dir. Liu Jiayin)

By Ariella Tai

On the University of Sydney’s blog Artspace, Christen Cornell interviews Liu Jiayin on her acclaimed films Oxhide and Oxhide II (both available in the dGenerate catalog). Despite being one of the youngest artists of the current generation of independent Chinese filmmakers, she is credited with being one of the most innovative. In this interview, she discusses her aesthetic choices, as well as her reasons for using daily household routines as the focus of her films. She gives an especially provoking response when asked what she wants the viewer to draw from her extended observations of daily household tasks, quipping that “Maybe it’s just how to make a bag, or make dumplings.”

CC: But we’re shown the years of repetition in this family’s daily tasks, we’re shown their skills, and how each member of the family has their own way of doing things. There’s a feeling of respect in the film.

LJY: True. These are the details of life that I think are interesting but that are often overlooked, especially within films, so I make a special effort to film them. Usually in films, if people are cooking or eating dinner, it’s never to show that people cook or eat dinner. It’s only ever used as a backdrop in which to show or say something else. So for example during dinner two people have a fight; or somebody announces they’re pregnant; or somebody announces they’re having an affair. And cooking scenes are often used to express that a couple are happy together; or to say something about a family; or the relationship between two people. These scenes are hardly ever about the cooking or eating.


I think these daily routines are interesting in themselves. I don’t have to add anything else to these moments in order to make them interesting to me. I don’t think you need somebody to catch fire, or for somebody to die, to make them worthy of observing.

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CinemaTalk: Interview with Huang Weikai, Director of Disorder

Monday, May 16th, 2011

"Disorder" director Huang Weikai

"Disorder" director Huang Weikai

Disorder, a bold documentary by Huang Weikai, has been steadily garnering recognition over the past year, screening at multiple venues across America. It’s been mentioned as one of the best films of 2010 by Moving Image Source and Film Comment magazine, and recently won Best Documentary at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Seeing it at the Reel China Film Festival in NYU, Hua Hsu of The Atlantic called it “one of the most mesmerizing films I’ve seen in ages.”

Disorder screens this Friday in Chicago at The Nightingale as part of the White Light Cinema series, and Saturday and Sunday at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Details for both events can be found here, as well as on the Chicago event’s Facebook page.

We have translated an interview with Huang Weikai that took place during one of the film’s first screenings at the 2009 Beijing Documentary Week (DOChina) and was originally published on the Fanhall Films website. (Sadly, both the Fanhall website and DOChina have been shut down this year; we hope that access to outstanding films like Disorder, as well as information about them, will continue to be accessible somehow in China.)

Q: What made you want to make this film?

Huang: I have lived in the city for a long time, and I have always been very concerned with city life. In recent years, cities have evolved a lot. This explains why I want to make a documentary about present city life in China. This film reflects what I think about city life, especially the chaotic side of it.

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Cinema Pacific Film Festival Opens Today – Guest Curator Shelly Kraicer Interviewed

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Shelly Kraicer

The Cinema Pacific Film Festival’s special series of Chinese cinema opens today and runs until April 10 at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Full screening details can be found here. dGenerate titles Disorder, 1428 and Oxhide II are featured in the program, with Oxhide II director Liu Jiayin appearing in person.

We caught up with Shelly Kraicer, Cinema Pacific’s first Festival Fellow, who curated the program, to get his thoughts on the series and the films he selected.

dGF: There are dozens if not hundreds of great Chinese independent films made in the past several years. How did you decide on the films for this program? What did you want to convey about Chinese independent film through your selections?

SK: I wanted to pick films that represented a range of different kinds of filmmaking that independent Chinese artists are doing now: experimental fiction, experimental documentary, on-the-spot documentary (jishi jilupian) and something unique from recent fiction film. Liu Jiayin is the most exciting young exponent of something like experimental-narrative-documentary-style hybrid filmmaking, now, so her two Oxhide films will already cover almost the entire range of films I was looking for. They’re challenging, and they’re fun, and they are very important.

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CinemaTalk: A Conversation with Ou Ning

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

By Dan Edwards

Ou NIng

In addition to being an artist, curator, writer, and director of the Shao Foundation, China’s cultural renaissance man Ou Ning is also an acclaimed documentary filmmaker. After making the experimental San Yuan Li in 2003 with Cao Fei and other members of the U-theque collective in Guangzhou, Ou Ning relocated to China’s capital, where he made Meishi St (2006) about the demolition of one of Beijing’s oldest areas in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympics. Both films are now part of the dGenerate Films catalogue.

In March 2010 I interviewed Ou Ning in Beijing about his filmmaking career for an article I was writing on China’s independent documentary sector for RealTime Arts magazine in Australia. Only a few select quotes appeared in that piece, but the complete interview contains a wealth of fascinating material not only on Ou’s background, but also the rise of China’s “digital” documentary generation.

Thanks to Ou Ning for his time and for speaking so openly about some controversial matters. The interview was conducted mostly in English.


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dGenerate President Karin Chien Profiled in The Beijinger

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
By Isabella Tianzi Cai

dGenerate Films President and Founder Karin Chien

Dan Edwards of The Beijinger profiles dGenerate Films’ President Karin Chien. The purpose of the company, as Edwards quotes Karin, was “to bring Chinese perspectives on the People’s Republic to US audiences.” There is a need for this due to language and cultural barriers between China and America. Most available films and television programs about China in the US and elsewhere tend to represent “an outsider’s view of China tailored to a western audience.” They are very different from the perspectives offered by native Chinese filmmakers.

Established in 2008, dGenerate took on a niche market of Chinese film distribution even as an economic downturn that year caused ten major US distributors to shut down. In order to distribute independent Chinese films in the US, there are problems to be overcome by the company. Karin comments on the patterns exhibited by the current reception of Chinese independent films in the US. So far, “dGenerate has found that films based on strong characters appeal most to US audiences, while film festival pedigree makes the films much easier to sell.” Moreover, as Edwards quotes Karin,
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Profile of Zhao Dayong, Director of Ghost Town and Street Life

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Zhao Dayong, director of Street Life and Ghost Town

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

This entry is part of a weeklong spotlight of newly available titles in the dGenerate Films catalog.

In the Global Times, Chris Hawke (Hao Ying) highlights director Zhao Dayong‘s filmmaking career and three of his documentaries. The article is occasioned by the screening of Zhao’s Street Life (2006) and Ghost Town (2008) at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing.

Street Life and Ghost Town, both available through the dGenerate catalog, have received international recognition in the festival circuit, and continue to garner praise from film critics from around the world. With regard to Street Life, Hawke writes,

Zhao explores how the poorest of the poor prey on each other, and draws parallels and allusions to the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West.

This point is reaffirmed by Zhao: (more…)