dGenerate’s own Kevin Lee was interviewed by MichâˆšÃ‰Â¬Â®le Vicat of 3 dots water, a virtual publication of Chinese and global art. Discussing the origins and current state of affairs of contemporary Chinese documentary, as well as how and why dGenerate Films came to exist as it does, Kevin says of Chinese documentary films:
What is interesting about these films is that they are by Chinese citizens who have become filmmakers. Their perspective is completely different. You really feel like you are watching from the inside, through the eyes of people who are personally invested. It is not a topical story, a sensational story that attracts western stereotypes about China. It is actually a very thorough, three-dimensional experience. You really get a sense of how these issues affect day-to-day life in China.
The interview covers ground from the technological changes that have allowed citizen documentarians to tell the stories of today’s China, to the specialized focus of documentary filmmakers such as Wu Wenguang, Ji Dan, Ai Weiwei, Huang Weikai and more, the fate of China’s independent film festivals, as well as the unique challenges of producing and distributing Chinese documentary films:
The problems only arise when you deal with distribution. Then, censorship comes in. It is not like the police will come to stop you doing what you want to do. There are so many things going on in China at the same time. But, when you try to reach a certain level of visibility or accessibility to an audience, then the mechanisms of censorship appear.
On the stylistic and aesthetic evolution of Chinese documentary:
This approach of pure observation of people and institutions became the aesthetic that many Chinese filmmakers adopted. I think that Chinese independent documentary filmmaking has really operated between these two poles, these two models: very personal or very social, very observant. It continues to evolve.
The interview can be accessed here in its entirety.