Reel China is Back! NYU hosts Fifth Edition of Chinese Doc Showcase

Disorder (dir. Huang Weikai)

The Reel China @NYU Documentary Film Festival presents a sampling of the most outstanding contemporary independent documentaries produced in China. Participating filmmakers range from more experienced professional documentarians to young novices. As their disparate visions extend and overlap, we witness the persistent presence of independent cameras that, amidst the disorienting transformation in China, assures the discovery and documentation of fragments of contemporary reality that are becoming history at breakneck speed.

In addition to screenings of the best new independent documentaries from China, directors Du Haibin (1428) and Huang Weikai (Disorder) will be on hand for discussions following their screenings. 1428 and Disorder are both distributed by dGenerate Films.

5th Reel China@NYU is curated by Zhang Zhen (NYU), Angela Zito (NYU),
with Zhu Rikun (Li Xianting Film Fund) and Zhang Pingjie (REC Foundation)

Presented by the Center for Religion and Media and The Department of Cinema Studies

Sponsored by the Center for Media, Culture and History and China House, NYU.
Support for this event was received from the Asian Cultural Council.

A full list of screenings and events after the break.

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All screenings and discussions take place in the Cinema Studies Department, Tisch School of the Arts, Michelson Theater, 721 Broadway, 6th floor
Free and open to the public

Friday, Oct. 15, 2 pm
1428 (2008, 117 min)
Directed by Du Haibin

The Great Sichuan Earthquake rocked China on May 12, 2008 at 14:28 in the
afternoon, leaving more than 69,000 people dead and 15 million displaced. Ten days later, celebrated filmmaker Du Haibin arrived in Beichuan, the hardest-hit town, and began filming this remarkable documentary, capturing the stunned reactions of the villagers, the horrific damage to homes and livelihoods, and the torments that official media coverage overlooked.

Q&A with the director after the film

Friday, Oct. 15, 7 pm
A Love Song, Maybe (2010, 114 min)
Directed by Zhang Zanbo

A waitress becomes involved in a relationship with a customer who comes to her for pleasure and escape. Their relationship, however, is plagued from the very beginning by lies, desire, impetuosity, confusion and pain. Shot among friends, the film creates an atmosphere of intimacy that alternates every day domestic life with the intensely emotional world of karaoke.

Saturday Oct. 16, 9:30 am
Fortune Teller (2010, 180 min)
Directed by Xu Tong

Li Baicheng makes a living by telling the fortunes of prostitutes and others in the demimonde of salons and massage parlors. In his forties, he met Pearl Shi, a woman cruelly mistreated at home because of her disability. He decided to leave their hometown, taking her with him to the countryside of northern China. But now a bitterly cold winter combines with a campaign against prostitution to send the couple back to their hometown. Spring is coming; they take to the road once more and travel to a fair where they wait for their luck to turn. A fascinating look at how people still find meaning in old traditions of divination in their fast-paced urban lives.

Saturday Oct. 16, 2 pm
Spiral Staircases of Harbin (2008, 109 min)
Directed by Ji Dan

On a hill in Harbin, in China’s Heilongjiang Province — the director’s hometown — a girl neglects her exam preparation in favor of drawing pictures. Her mother wants her to study. Below, a couple is unable to talk with their son who is always playing with his friends. The emotional lives of these powerless parents play out against the atmosphere of an unforgiving modern urban society.

Saturday Oct. 16, 3:50 pm
Disorder (2009, 58 min)
Directed by Huang Weikai

The faster Chinese urbanization advances, the stranger peoples’ behaviors and moral standards become. Disorder combines more than twenty street scenes into a collage, revealing absurd facets of Guangzhou’s urban life, giving us an experimental film about the city, in the spirit of Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Camera.

5:00 pm Panel discussion with directors, curators and scholars

Saturday Oct. 16, 7:30 pm
Lao Ma Moved (2009, 163 min)
Directed by Zha Xiaoyuan

Rug-weaver Lao Ma and his family live in a remote village at Haiyuan County, Xi Haigu District, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Rug weaving is a profession closely tied to traditional craft, but economic difficulties ensue as weavers’ families wrestle with marriage, childbirth, water shortages that ruin farming, and the hard fact of needing to travel away for work. The film reflects the poor living conditions of the Hui Muslim peasants in this mountain area.

Sunday Oct. 17, 10 am
Wind, Flowers, Snow, Moon (2008, 100 min)
Directed by Yang Jianjun

In a small village in the northwest of Sichuan province, Mr. Yang, a ninety year-old grandfather, is the ninth-generation successor in a family of fengshuiexperts. They preside over funerals for the village. The documentary focuses on intimacy with life-and-death and the tragedy of how “the young perish, while the old linger”. Sons and daughters wrangle over funeral expenses; an affectionate couple dies, one after another. Yang’s family celebrates the birth of his great-grandchildren while simultaneously burying a son who has died of cancer.

Sunday Oct. 17, 1 pm
Mouthpiece (2009, 197 min)
Directed by Guo Xizhi

This unusual film takes us into the everyday life of a media organization in the southern city of Shenzhen. It unfolds in two parallel spaces: the Shenzhen TV news program “First Spot” and the city itself. At the TV station we see work routines of meetings, article writing, worry over viewing rates and market share, even lunch time napping. Out in the city, “the mouthpiece” news organ crews walk the energetic streets, recording people delivering their misfortunes to the camera while houses of immigrants are destroyed with thundering explosions.

Sunday Oct. 17, 6 pm
Tape (2010, 175 min)
Directed by Li Ning

Director Li Ning writes: “After many years, my research into the use of tape reached a point of obsession and madness. It was the focus of my entire life at home and on stage. It preoccupied my thoughts and my work. In China, a land of magical illusions, what I am doing is destined to become ridiculous and absurd. Through encounters with major events in many countries and my own extreme behavior in and out of performance installations, I have finally married reality and surreal art into a seamless realm. But in the end, I have become just another photo pasted on an employment form, forced to function in society as part of the machine.” This ongoing work appears in its latest cut in Reel China, part of a nascent experimental trend in independent documentary in China.

Event staff support: Jeff Richardson, Ann Neumann
Thanks to: Barbara Abrash, Richard Allen, Faye Ginsburg, and Antonia Lant

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