A Tour of China’s Only Independent Film School

Li Xianting Film School's Ying Liang (left) and Zhu Rikun (right) with owner and daughter of their favorite restaurant in Songzhuang (photo by Gertjan Zuilhof)

Last month we reported that the International Film Festival Rotterdam launched “Raiding Africa,” an exciting program commissioning several African filmmakers to make new films in China. The IFFR enlisted the Li Xianting Film School to help initiate the African directors into the Chinese independent film scene. Located in Songzhuang on the outskirts of Beijing, Li Xianting Film School is the first film school for independent filmmakers in China,.

IFFR’s Gertjan Zuilhof, the organizer of the program, is providing ongoing updates on the project at his IFFR blog. His latest entry introduces the Li Xianting Film School, where important figures like Zhu Rikun and Ying Liang (whose films dGenerate distributes) are fostering the independent film movement in China through their screenings, events and educational programs.

We’ve visited Songzhuang on multiple occasions, and we’ve always meant to profile the Li Xianting Film School in depth (the closest we’ve come is Shelly Kraicer’s indispensible guide to the Chinese indie film scene). So it’s great that Zuilhof is bringing exposure to the Film School through both the Raiding Africa program and his blog. And it’s amusing to read Zuilhof’s observations on Songzhuang, a former farming town that has become a haven for Beijing artists, and has traded its acres of fields for newly-built galleries. Zuilhof quips: “They make modern art museums here like they are pizza huts.”

Tags: , , , , ,

3 Responses to “A Tour of China’s Only Independent Film School”

  1. […] direction, as China serves as a destination for both commercial and cultural exchange. We’ve reported earlier about the interesting “Raiding Africa” project funded by the Rotterdam Film Festival […]

  2. […] BFA is still one of only a few film schools in China. Given the large population of China, it is really sad that many who wish to study film do not get the chance to. According to Xie Fei, the place was extremely competitive in the 1960s. “At the end of the evaluation of each semester,” he said. “Some students would not make it through to the next class.” Things might have changed in the 1970s and 1980s, but both Feng Xiaoning and Wang Xiaoshuai stated how hard they had worked as students at the BFA. “My main memories about the Beijing Film Academy are studying, studying and studying,” Wang divulged in his interview. Unlike those who went before her, Liu Jiayin felt differently about the school. According to her, the place felt more inspirational than stressful. For the benefit of the country at large though, more film schools can perhaps ease the competition and provide more opportunities for aspiring filmmakers and films to proliferate. (For a good example of a new, private institution dedicated to filmmaking, look to the Li Xianting Film School.) […]

  3. […] the Li Xianting Independent Film School. Li Xianting’s outpost is called China’s “only independent film school” and is tightly integrated with the documentary film festivals that go on down there in […]

Leave a Reply