China Independent Film Festival Celebrates 10th Anniversary in UK

March 18th, 2014

6450755The 10th Anniversary of the China Independent Film Festival UK Celebration will take place between 12May 2014 and 15 May 2014 in Newcastle. It is organized by the China Independent Film Festival and the University of Newcastle in partnership with the University of Nottingham and the China Visual Festival. The celebratory event in Newcastle consists of retrospective screenings of CIFF awarded films, an exhibition – A Decade of the CIFF and a workshop – Film Festival in Focus. The four-day event in Newcastle will provide the audience a festival-like celebratory atmosphere and the most exciting gathering of Chinese independent documentaries, fictions and animations. Screenings will go on tour to Nottingham and London.

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Call for Papers: Unthinking Asian Migration

March 11th, 2014


Un-thinking Asian Migrations: Spaces of flows and intersections

25-26 August 2014, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

The Asian Migrations Research Theme is a collective of scholars working in Asian Studies at the University of Otago. The Asian Migrations Research Theme focuses on movements of peoples and ideas––past and present––in East, South, and South-East Asia and into the Pacific (encompassing the Pacific Islands, Australia, and New Zealand). It engages with the fields of diaspora, intercultural, global, and transnational studies, which have grown over the last twenty years to become key frameworks for understanding culture beyond the boundaries of one nation. We see significant shortcomings in the current theories and methodologies of Asian migration and diaspora and especially in their application to the Asia-Pacific region. Our focus on Asian migrations allows us to highlight and address these shortcomings and to develop new approaches. The goal of the Theme is to develop a theoretical and methodological framework for understanding the Asia-Pacific region as comprised by movements of peoples, ideas, and commodities.
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“The Errol Morris of China:” Article and Presentation on Hu Jie in Portland

February 24th, 2014
Hu Jie

Hu Jie

On February 28, Professor Jennifer Ruth of Portland State University will give a presentation on international acclaimed documentary film maker Hu Jie and his work. The presentation, titled  “On Thinking for Oneself in Mao’s China” will show clips from three of his films: Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul; My Mother Wang Peiying; and Spark.

In the current issue of Propeller Magazine, Professor Ruth profiles Hu, whom she describes as “the Errol Morris or Claude Lanzmann of China.” She writes:

Hu Jie finds individuals who lived through situations that seem to defy representation and creates an atmosphere in which they can tell their stories—in some cases, for the first time. As his interviewees grow more expansive with the soft-spoken Hu, the audience watches them shed years of trauma. In startlingly intimate sequences, individuals reconcile themselves to the wronged lives they’ve lived, performing the excruciating but powerful psychological work of turning wounds and scars into cautionary tales and object lessons.

Writing about Hu’s film Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul, Ruth reflects on the struggles of those such as Lin Zhao, a victim of persecution during the Cultural Revolution, and others who sought to think and speak independently during the Maoist era:

Lin Zhao’s steadfastness in the face of extreme pressure attracted Hu Jie to her story, but so did the simple fact of her ability to think clearly when so many others couldn’t. “This girl continued to think for herself when the rest of China stopped thinking,” he says at the beginning of Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul. How does one retain one’s critical capacity when under enormous psychological and physical pressure to conform to ideology? How does one hold onto right and wrong when one can no longer freely test one’s impressions among others? Whereas Hannah Arendt explained how easy it is to stop thinking in Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hu Jie shows how hard it can be to continue to think in films like Searching for Lin Zhao’s SoulMy Mother Wang PeiyingEast Wind FarmThough I am Gone, and Spark.


Read the full article on Propeller.

Hu Jie’s films Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul, Though I Am Gone and East Wind State Farm are available through the dGenerate Films Collection.

Event Details:

Friday, February 28, 2014 at 6:30-8:00 PM in SBA 490
(631 SW Harrison Street, Portland, OR 97201)
Presentation: “On Thinking for Oneself in Mao’s China”  by Dr. Jennifer Ruth, Professor of English at Portland State University Sponsored by the Confucius Institute of Portland State University


“Hu Jie on Thinking for Oneself in Mao’s China,” Portland, February 28

February 24th, 2014
Hu Jie

Hu Jie

The Confucius Institute at PSU Friday Event Series presents

a lecture:

Hu Jie on Thinking for Oneself in Mao’s China”

by Jennifer Ruth, Associate Professor of Literature at Portland State University.

Friday, February 28, 2014
6:30 PM 
Location:  PSU School of Business Administration Building, Lecture Hall 490
631 SW Harrison Street, Portland OR 97201

This talk will introduce the audience to acclaimed Chinese documentary filmmaker Hu Jie’s work and show clips from three of his films:

  • Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul,
  • My Mother Wang Peiying,
  • and Spark.

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Remembering Lin Zhao: A Media Review

February 20th, 2014
Searching for Lin Zhao's Soul (dir. Hu Jie)

Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul (dir. Hu Jie)

Last December 16 marked the 81st anniversary of Lin Zhao’s birth (it’s technically the 82nd because although her birth certificate says 12/16/1932, her real birthday was 12/16/1931). Lin, a top student from Peking University, was imprisoned for defending students and leaders persecuted during Mao Zedong’s Anti-Rightist Movement in the late 1950s. A gifted writer, Lin composed endless articles and poems from her cell. Forbidden to use pens, she wrote using a hairpin dipped in her own blood. In 1968 she was executed, her tragic life lost to the margins of history.

Four decades after Lin’s execution, filmmaker Hu Jie filmed Searching For Lin Zhao’s Soul, a chronicle of Hu’s investigative journey to bring Lin’s story to light, uncovering the details of this forgotten woman’s fight for civil rights.

Hu Jie has collected multiple articles about the anniversary, many of which are published in particular relation to the recent news of former Red Guard Song Binbin’s apology for participating in the student movements that led to the death of her former teacher, Bian Zhongyun, at the start of the Cultural Revolution. This incident is documented in another documentary by Hu Jie, Though I Am Gone. Both Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul and Though I Am Gone are available as part of the dGenerate Films Collection.

The following articles provided by Hu are all in Chinese. The authors and titles are translated into English by Isabelle Tianzi Cai.

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Video Profile of “Trash-Talking” Filmmaker Wang Jiuliang

February 18th, 2014

From ChinaFile, a video profile of independent director Wang Jiuliang, whose award-winning documentary Beijing Besieged by Waste is part of the dGenerate Films Collection:

Documentary filmmaker and photographer Wang Jiuliang spent four years, between 2008 and 2011, documenting over 460 hazardous and mostly illegal landfill sites around Beijing.

His award-winning film Beijing Besieged by Waste (2011) provoked intense public discussion and is widely credited with having prodded the Beijing municipal government into allocating 10 billion RMB (U.S.$1.65 billion) to cleaning up the local waste industry. Wang then revisited the landfills he had documented. He estimates that at least 80% of them have been shuttered or upgraded. “With his photos and film, Wang Jiuliang has single-handedly accomplished what many NGOs in China had worked hard toward for decades—raising public awareness and bringing about policy change,” says environmental activist and filmmaker Shi Lihong.

Wang is now at work on a new film, Plastic China, which focuses on China’s recycling of imported plastics and is scheduled for release this summer. China is the world’s largest recycler and imports about 70% of the recyclable plastics and e-waste on the global market. Wang spoke to ChinaFile Culture Editor Sun Yunfan in December 2013 in Hong Kong.

Punto de Vista Film Festival Celebrates Films of Pema Tseden

February 17th, 2014
Pema Tseden (Wanma Caidan)

Pema Tseden (Wanma Caidan)

The 2014 edition of the Punto de Vista Film Festival of Navarra, Spain, is an international seminar focusing on works of documentary from around the world. This year’s seminar spotlights the career of Tibet-based filmmaker Pema Tseden (Wanma Caidan) and his three feature films, The Silent Holy Stones, The Search, and Old Dog. (The latter two films are part of the dGenerate Films collection.)

As part of the program, the Festival commissioned a booklet featuring an interview with Pema Tseden by film scholar and critic Zhang Ling and an original essay appreciation of his films by filmmaker and critic Dan Sallitt. The following excerpt of Sallitt’s essay is reprinted here with permission of the Festival and the author:

Pema Tseden’s misfortune is that he will likely be pigeonholed for the foreseeable future as the most important Tibetan filmmaker; whereas he required only a few films to establish himself as one of the best and most confident filmmakers anywhere in the world.

His first feature, The Silent Holy Stones (2005), presents all the elements of Tseden’s style in mature form: a weighty compositional sense that combines spectacular depiction of landscape and a precise deployment of his human subjects; the use of strongly conceptual material in which the central concept is overstated and reiterated, both for comedy and as a distancing effect; a humorous use of repeated actions and fixity of behavior; a figural approach to performance that renders the difference between actors and non-actors immaterial; and a pessimistic vision of the frailty of spiritual values in the face of worldly desire.

2009’s The Search follows The Silent Holy Stones in its focus on the role of fiction and storytelling in our lives, but the later film veers away from conventional narrative and adopts an abstract, cyclical structure that seems at once primitive and experimental.

After this feint toward the boundaries of narrative, Tseden’s most recent film, Old Dog (2011), unexpectedly applies his approach and concerns to an elemental drama that, through the dogged, minimalist cadences of Tseden’s story construction and the grandeur of his compositions, acquires the force of mythology.

The Punto de Vista Film Seminar will be held from February 19-22 in Pamplona. Details here.

New Chinese Documentaries Screen at MoMA Documentary Fortnight

February 17th, 2014

Mothers (dir. Xu Huijing)

Mothers (dir. Xu Huijing)

Documentary Fortnight, the Museum of Modern Art’s annual showcase of outstanding nonfiction works, this year includes two acclaimed features from China. ‘Til Madness Do Us Part is the newest magnum opus by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Wang Bing. Mothers is an award-winning look at the effects of China’s one-child policy on Chinese village life, produced by leading Chinese documentary production company Cnex. All screenings at the Museum of Modern Art. Details and screening dates listed below. Click on film titles for more information.

‘Til Madness Do Us Part
2013. Hong Kong/France/Japan. Directed by Wang Bing. In a bleak asylum in southwest China, 50 inmates who have committed crimes, are mentally ill, or simply don’t fit into society spend their lives locked on a single floor, negotiating sparse quarters, extreme isolation, and minimal food as best they can, in a world beyond societal norms. 228 min.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 6:30 p.m.

2013. China. Directed by Xu Huijing. The complex personal consequences of China’s one-child policy are unveiled through the experiences of women and families in one rural town. Local leaders coldly enforce national policies, without regard to individual circumstances, by methodically carrying out the long-standing government decree. 68 min.

screening with:

The Private Life of Fenfen

2013. USA. Directed by Leslie Tai. Born in a small Chinese village in 1983, Fenfen has kept a video diary since 2007. The film follows three years of her life through her video diary and viewers’ reactions to scenes from it as they are screened in a restaurant, a hair salon, and other public places. 29 min.

Monday, February 24, 2014, 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 27, 2014, 7:00 p.m.

The Animation of the Real: Liu Jian Northeast US Tour

February 11th, 2014
Piercing I (dir. Liu Jian)

Piercing I (dir. Liu Jian)

A series of events to showcase the work of seminal Chinese independent animation filmmaker Liu Jian is taking place during February 2014, with visits to Harvard University, Colgate University, College of Staten Island, and Spectacle Theater.

Animation is often conceived of as a surrealist and fantastical mode of filmmaking. In Piercing I (Citong wo, 2010), Liu Jian presents us with an alternative style. Liu’s film is a raw, social realism through animation that confronts the accelerating speed of Chinese society, and represents the lives of migrating souls as they navigate China’s radical social and economic transformations. Piercing I is a strikingly real and contemporary take on the urban landscapes of this fast-developing nation. The film looks into the struggles of rural migrants as they inhabit new urban realms, and touches upon issues of mobility, corruption and social inequalities. The current social and political stances of the establishment in China cannot tolerate a film with these topics, and indeed Piercing I was not granted official approval for commercial release.
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“Striking and Powerful:” Beijing Besieged by Waste Reviewed

February 6th, 2014
Beijing Besieged by Waste (dir. WANG Jiuliang)

Beijing Besieged by Waste (dir. WANG Jiuliang)

In the new issue of the journal Environment, Space, Place, Lorna Lueker Zukas of National University reviews Wang Jiuliang’s Beijing Besieged by Waste, a “striking and powerful film reveals that garbage caused by unfettered production for local and global marketplaces is creating enormous problems for China:”

Wang’s documentary uses familiar subjects, trash, reclamation, and recycling, to illustrate the problem of too much; too much garbage, too much growth, and too much consumption. Beijing is showcased as the “poster-city” for the global problem of waste, a problem recognized by the World Bank as potentially undermining future growth and development. Globally, waste volumes are rapidly increasing, outstripping the rate of urbanization; this growth is occurring fastest not only in China, but also in other parts of East Asia, parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Wang’s images force viewers’ attention to the physical environment, the realities of endless material production, and the reduction of people to disposable status. He asks viewers to think about the connection between production and destruction. Waste in China and elsewhere is primarily a by-product of consumer-based lifestyles that drive much of the world’s capitalist economies; it is the most obvious and noxious by-product of a capital-intensive, resource-extracting, labor-abusing, consumer-based economic lifestyle. Wang’s images remind us that trash is not just trash; it morphs into greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and air pollution that make people ill. Unenforced regulations in the trash industry also provide spaces and places for the exploitation and degradation of workers. Beijing Besieged by Waste helps viewers to appreciate, however momentarily, the global context of waste and its connections to economies and local and global pollution.

Beijing Besieged by Waste is part of the dGenerate Films collection.