The New York Times reports on the troubles that met the 9th Beijing Independent Film Festival last month. Reporter Jonathan Landreth frames the events within the greater context of independent filmmaking in China amidst the the country’s development of commercial cinema, accompanied by strict regulatory guidelines over what kinds of films can be produced and distributed domestically:
Independent film took off in the late 1990s in China with the importing of inexpensive, compact digital technology, freeing filmmakers to experiment in private without bulky film cameras drawing unwanted attention. Today, high-definition digital cameras cost even less and are smaller, bolstering eager users’ ability to tell stories their own way.
This independent spirit comes at a time when mainstream films are booming in China. In 2011, ticket sales jumped 30 percent to hit $2.1 billion and are expected to surpass Japanese sales by January, making China Hollywood’s largest export box office.
â€šÃ„ÃºWe care so much about independent films exactly because we want to create a multicultural environment, not because we need to overthrow commercial films or emphasize the unique correctness of independent films,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Li Xianting, Beijing Independent Film Festival co-founder, said in an interview. â€šÃ„ÃºChina’s a place where only the mainstream is emphasized and anything else shouldn’t exist.â€šÃ„Ã¹
The article mentions the efforts of dGenerate to promote the production and distribution of Chinese independent films outside of China:
Also trying to help the Chinese independent filmmakers gathered in Songzhuang was Kevin Lee of dGenerate Films, who helped promote â€šÃ„ÃºGhost Town,â€šÃ„Ã¹ a documentary about a village in the southwestern province of Yunnan, that had its premiere at the festival in 2009 before moving on to the New York Film Festival.
â€šÃ„ÃºSince these films can’t legally be sold in China, we help create streams of revenue that can go toward supporting future productions,â€šÃ„Ã¹ said Mr. Lee, whose company helps the films find buyers at museums, colleges and libraries outside China.
In 2010, dGenerate sponsored a workshop at an Apple store in Beijing where independent filmmakers taught iPhone and MacBook users about their craft. One instructor was Peng Tao, whose latest feature, â€šÃ„ÃºThe Cremator,â€šÃ„Ã¹ about a dying mortician, is being shown at theToronto International Film Festival, which began Thursday.
Read the full article on the New York Times.
More coverage of the Beijing Independent Film Festival, including video footage, can be found here.