by Isabella Tianzi Cai
RealTime Arts, Australia’s critical guide to contemporary international arts, recently reviewed several films from the 34th Hong Kong International Film Festival – several by directors with films distributed by dGenerate.
In the Asian Digital Competition section of HKIFF, the awards went to Zhao Dayong’s The High Life and Yang Heng’s Sun Spots. RealTime’s Mike Walsh comments on the former, “Characters enter and then leave the narrative, frustrating our attempt to approach contemporary China in exclusively personal terms. It is worth comparing this to the structure of Zhao’s previous documentary Ghost Town which is divided into three parts, each focusing on a different character.” dGenerate Films distributes Ghost Town as well as Zhao’s debut feature Street Life (coming soon), and Yang Heng’s Betelnut.
In the same article, Walsh also highly commends Liu Jiayin’s mesmerizing documentary Oxhide II, the sequel to Oxhide (distributed by dGenerate). He writes,
In some ways this is the ultimate work of everyday realism – until you realise that the action is carefully composed and staged. As with her previous film, Liu’s performers are her parents and herself, and the film shows them talking, squabbling and cooking together in real time and in their own home. As with any good work of minimalism, you pare down the elements so that small things assume larger impact.
The Best Documentary award went to Zhao Liang’s Petition, which was also a special selection at Cannes last year. In his HKIFF review, also at RealTime Arts, Dan Edwards compares Petition to another Chinese documentary, Once Upon a Time a Proletarian by Guo Xiaolu. Edwards comments that both these films exhibit “the Chinese independent documentary tradition of probing what lies behind the glittering facades of China’s economic success” and HKIFF may be “the only place in the People’s Republic where such critical works can play at such high profile events.”
At dGenerate Films, we are glad to make contemporary Chinese documentaries as well as feature films available to audiences outside China. Currently we hold another of Zhao’s films, Crime and Punishment, which documents the less-known daily lives of people living in a small village near the Chinese-Korean border, under the constant surveillance and harassment of a local police station.