Posts Tagged ‘american idol’

How American Idol Introduced Democracy and Tomboys to China

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Over at Fandor, our own Kevin Lee has a piece on Jian Yi’s Super, Girls!, coinciding with the finale of American Idol Season 10, airing tonight and tomorrow. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Super Girl (once officially known as the Mongolian Cow Yoghurt Super Girl Contest, after its brand sponsor) launched in 2004, just a couple years after Pop Idol and American Idol. Originally a local TV production, the show took advantage of a newly formed nationwide satellite network to broadcast across China, and quickly became a runaway success. By its third season the show drew over 400 million viewers, exceeding not just the total number of American Idol viewers, but the entire US population. Whether due to this alarming display of voter mobilization or the runaway popularity of a show that glorified pop idolatry, the Chinese government shut down the show after three seasons (though it has since been revived).

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SUPER, GIRLS! and Director JIAN Yi at China Institute!

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

super_girls-thumbIn collaboration with dGenerate Films, the China Institute in America (125 East 65th Street) will present dGenerate title Super, Girls! (Chao Ji Nu Sheng) on Saturday, October 24, at 4:30 pm, as part of the Sinomathèque Film Series. An open discussion with director JIAN Yi will follow the screening.

Super, Girls! follows ten female teenagers on their quest to become instant superstars through the “Super Girls Singing Contest,” the wildly popular Chinese version of the “American Idol.” Discussing his unusual subject matter among Chinese indies, director Jian says in the “Director’s Statement”:

“Mainstream life is fairly underrepresented in independent Chinese documentaries as filmmakers tend to focus more on the society’s underprivileged groups. Yet ‘mainstream’ life in fast changing societies like China’s can be as different as Red Guards in 1960s, poets in 1980s, businessmen in 1990s and the ‘Super-girls’ in 2000s. What are the values of the family’s-only-child generation? How do they release their tremendous extra energy and money and embrace a globalized culture? China should not be just the playground for banks and corporations. China’s new generation of independent filmmakers look into the present-day mainstream culture and document and scrutinize this crazy and confusing time of the nation’s history.”

The Sinomathèque is an ongoing film series at the China Institute that showcases contemporary and historical work of every genre originating from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

For more information, visit the China Institute.

For further information, please contact sinomatheque@chinainstitute.org or 212-744-8181×150.

American Idol as… Underground Cinema?

Monday, September 7th, 2009
Jian Yi filming Super, Girls!

Jian Yi behind the scenes of Super, Girls!

Recent d(igital)-generation films are considered “underground” not only due to subject matter. More often than not their production methodology helps define their independence. This is part of a series looking behind the scenes of Digital Underground in the People’s Republic.

It’s true that one standing trope of “underground” Chinese films is a fascination with life on the margins. These are the folks who don’t get any screen time in glossy studio pics – ethnic populations, village life, orphans, petty criminals, drug addicts, homeless migrants, and the list goes on. So it’s more than a little surprising to come across an underground film that takes ten average Chinese female teenagers as its subject. Add to that the inclusion of the wildly popular Chinese version of American Idol, and the choice of subject matter is even more startling.

But this is exactly what Jian Yi, director of the documentary Super, Girls!, did. He figured that the margins weren’t the only populations ignored in mainstream cinema. So Jian Yi picked up his digital camera and, without authorization from the Chinese government or the sponsoring television station for that matter, headed down to the regional auditions for the television contest Super Girl.

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