Posts Tagged ‘asia society’

Asia Society Presents Visions of a New China

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Asia Society Presents Documentary Film Series:

Visions of a New China

September 25 – October 29, 2011

Asia Society and Museum, 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, NYC

Asia Society presents a documentary film series that focuses on contemporary urban life in China with nine films in seven programs (two double bills). The series runs from September 25 to October 29, 2011 at Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York City.

China is undergoing the fastest economic growth and social transformation known in human history. In urban centers, a booming economy, an unfolding physical landscape and shifting demographics have created new and evolving realities. This documentary film series, focusing on urban life, explores how millions of people navigate this changing China. While some Chinese mourn the loss of the past, others find ways to survive and thrive. Films portray stories of success, struggle, disillusionment and caution.

The nine documentaries in the series were made between 2005 and 2011; eight of them are by Chinese filmmakers. The series sheds light on an unparalleled spectrum of experiences across social and economic classes. It also takes critical looks at the repercussions of China’s unstoppable development.

Film descriptions and program schedule follow. To view trailers and for more information on the series, visit

Tickets: $7 members; $9 students/seniors; $11 nonmembers. Series discount available. or call 212-517-ASIA (2742) for more information.

The film series is programmed by La Frances Hui, Film Curator of Asia Society. This series is supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Foundations. Additional support is provided by the Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations and New York State Council on the Arts.

PROGRAM SCHEDULE (all films with English subtitles)


Pictures from the U.S. Tour of Du Haibin and 1428

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Du Haibin speaks at the YMCA Chinatown in San Francisco, event co-sponsored by the S.F. Asia Society

The two-week tour of Du Haibin and 1428 across the U.S. has finally concluded. We were able to collect a few photos along the way. We extend our deepest gratitude to all of the venues and sponsors that played host to Du Haibin and his award-winning film. Special thanks to New York University and Reel China for sponsoring Du Haibin’s first-ever visit to the U.S., which made all of his screenings and appearances possible.

Visit our events page for information on upcoming screenings.

dGenerate is already making arrangements for Chinese screenings and director appearances for the winter and spring. If you are interested in organizing an event, please contact us.

More photos from the tour after the break.


In One Week, Du Haibin and 1428 to visit Stanford, SF and NYC!

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Du Haibin, winner of Venice Film Festival Best Documentary Award for 1428

Your chance to meet the celebrated director Du Haibin is getting close! Du Haibin will be on hand at select engagements to present his film 1428, winner of the 2009 Venice International Film Festival’s Best Documentary Prize. A haunting look at a real human tragedy that devastated the lives of millions, 1428 chronicles the days following one of history’s worst earthquakes.

Here’s a list of next week’s events:

Stanford University, California
Pigott Hall
Main Quad, Building 260, Room 113
Director Du Haibin to attend

SF Asia Society
Chinatown YMCA
855 Sacramento St.
San Francisco CA 94108
(415) 576-9622

Cinema Studies Screening Room
721 Broadway, 6th floor
New York University, New York
Director Du Haibin to attend

This screening opens “Reel China, 5th Documentary Biennial at NYU”
Fri-Sunday: Oct 15-18
NYU Center for Religion and Media/Cinema Studies

Maysles Cinema
343 Lenox Ave
Ground Fl., New York, NY 10027
(212) 582-6050
Co-sponsored by Weatherhead East Asian Institute:

Visit the 1428 event page ( for a full list of events.

Will we see you? RSVP attending on our Facebook event page.

The Hidden Tolls of Coal Mining

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
Coal Miners in China (Image: China Digital Times)

Coal Miners in China (Image: China Digital Times)

by Ariella Tai

The Asia Society’s China Green feature “Black Lungs: The Hidden Tolls of Coal Mining” discusses the high environmental and human costs of coal mining in China. Although the ecological risks of coal mining and consumption are widely known, this feature explores the human cost of mining in more depth.

Featured on the site is a clip from Faraway Mountain, independent documentary filmmaker Hu Jie’s film on the living conditions of coal miners in a northern Chinese village. These so-called “cave-cats” spend over 12 hours a day in the mines for the equivalent of less than 600 USD per month, with little to no protection from the fumes and dust. One miner interviewed compares mining to battle, observing that:

“Mining coal is like going to war- three or four deaths a day. But if a fire explosion happens, bam! Suddenly thousands of people and the entire mine is wiped out!”

But more dangerous even than the risk of getting crushed by machinery or buried alive by mine collapses, is the fatal “Black Lung” disease- contracted by breathing fumes of kerosene and coal dust. Although the government does allot funds to cover treatment for those afflicted with Black Lung, patients who are “too far advanced,” too old, or who contracted the disease working in an illegal mine are not eligible for treatment, and even the lung-flushing procedures funded by the government are only able to alleviate symptoms of the disease, rather than cure.

According to official Chinese statistics, “Since 1949 over a quarter million people have died from coal mining”

Visit Asia Society’s China Green feature here.

Asia Society Film Recap: Fujian Blue

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Fujian Blue (dir. Robin Weng)

Concluding our recap of the Asia Society series “China’s Past, Present and Future on Film,” here is an excerpt from a full-length review by Joe Bendel of Robin Weng’s acclaimed feature Fujian Blue:

Port towns have a certain unsavory reputation, which the cities of Fujian Province amply fulfill. Home of the “Golden Triangle of illegal immigration,” China’s Fujian is also a border region, neighboring nearby archipelagos controlled by the Republic of China. Not surprisingly there is a lot of money to be made in Fujian, but nearly always at someone else’s expense. Indeed, it is an environment marked by corruption and exploitation that emerges in Robin Weng’s Fujian Blue.

Like nearly all of the films in the Asia Society series, Weng’s approach is unsentimentally naturalistic. However, Blue still has a strong narrative structure. The cast is also quite convincing in a way that is somewhat disturbing, given the film’s documentary-like realism and their characters’ morally questionable natures. Yet, what really distinguishes the film is its strong sense of place, depicting a Fujian where McMansions, red-light districts, slums, and the rocky natural beauty of the coastline exist nearly side-by-side.

While most of the films in the Asia Society series reflect the aesthetics of the Jia Zhangke-influenced “Digital Generation” (or d-generate), the selected films taken as a whole represent China’s geographic diversity quite well. Offering pointed social commentary and an unvarnished tour of Fujian, Blue is a strong conclusion to an ambitious film series.

Read the full review.

Also read Mike Fu’s exclusive review on our site.

Watch clips from Fujian Blue below:

Asia Society Film Recap: Gai Shanxi and Her Sisters

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Gai Shanxi and Her Sisters (dir. Ban Zhongyi)

Continuing our recap of the Asia Society series “China’s Past, Present and Future on Film,” here is an excerpt from a full-length review by Joe Bendel of Ban Zhongyi’s groundbreaking documentary Gai Shanxi and Her Sisters:

Her name was Hou Dong E, but she was known as “Gai Shanxi,” meaning “the most beautiful woman in Shanxi Province.” Unfortunately, beauty can be a curse in a time of war. Such was certainly the case for Gai Shanxi and the other Shanxi women forced to serve as sex slaves for the occupying Imperial Japanese military during World War II. Though she never had the chance to bear witness to the atrocities she suffered, Ban Zhongyi tells the story of the former so-called “comfort woman” on her behalf in his documentary, Gai Shanxi and Her Sisters.

Though many in Japan still persistently deny “comfort women” were systematically sexually assaulted, Ban found one Japanese veteran who essentially confirms on-camera the nature and regularity of such crimes (though he understandably tries to minimize his own culpability). That alone makes Ban’s film quite an important cinematic investigation.

Ultimately, Sisters acts as a testament to a truly beautiful woman, who should have been venerated by her community in her own lifetime. Though its execution is imperfect, it is an important, sometimes angry film that should not be ignored.

Read the full review.

Find out more about Gai Shanxi and Her Sisters.

Watch clips from Gai Shanxi and Her Sisters below:

Asia Society Recap: Little Moth

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Little Moth (dir. Peng Tao)

Continuing our recap of the Asia Society series “China’s Past, Present and Future on Film,” here is an excerpt from a full-length review by Joe Bendel of Peng Tao’s heartbreaking feature Little Moth:

In China’s less prosperous provinces, people often become commodities. It is not just white slavery either. Evidently, there is also a market for physically pitiable children for professional panhandling rings. Such a fate befalls one eleven year old girl in Peng Tao’sLittle Moth

Filmed in a “digital generation” Vérité style, Moth is disturbingly realistic. Its injustices will likely outrage many viewers. Some might also get upset with Peng, who ends at a rather unsatisfying juncture. Presumably that is the point though. This is socially minded cinema at its most manipulative and effective…

While Moth shares the extremely naturalistic approach of many independent Chinese filmmakers, it has a very clear narrative thread. There is real danger and considerable double-dealing, though Peng chooses to de-emphasize the potential thriller aspects of her story (adapted from a novel by Bai Tianguang). It is certainly an example of a director masterfully controlling the audience’s emotional responses. Angry and heartrending, Moth packs a walloping emotional punch…

Read the full review.

Find out more about Little Moth.

Watch clips from Little Moth below:

Asia Society Film Recap: Betelnut

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Betelnut (dir. Yang Heng)

“China’s Past, Present and Future on Film,” the recently concluded film series at the Asia Society, yielded positive coverage from a number of reviewers. We’ve already linked to Andrew Chan’s piece on the series in The Auteurs. But we’ve also come across reviews of individual dGenerate titles that screened in the series.

For example, here are a couple of reviews of Yang Heng’s award-winning debut Betelnut. This first excerpt is from an online review by Joe Bendel:

Yang is definitely a director who believes in holding a good shot. Indeed, many of his tableaus are quite striking. While he patiently allows scenes to develop in their own good time, Yang often allows Betelnut to slow to a languorous pace, even compared to the impressionistic films of Jia Zhangke and his contemporaries of the so-called “Sixth Generation.” Yet, despite the film’s stillness, the promise of heat induced violence always feels palpable…

The uncompromisingly naturalistic Betelnut is one of the more demanding films of the Asia Society’s current independent Chinese film series. However, almost every frame is obviously painstakingly crafted by a keen visual stylist. Definitely a film for connoisseurs.

Critic and blogger Christopher Bourne offers his own praise for the film:

“Life seems so cheap sometimes.” This statement by a girl succinctly expresses the philosophy of the aimless characters of Yang Heng’s debut feature Betelnut, a quietly stunning film that finds great beauty in its stillness and austerity, rendering the actions of its characters within a rich musique concrete-like sound design and an intricately arranged visual field that makes us pay attention to the tiniest detail of its images. Yang often has major events of the film occur in extreme long-shot, obscured behind objects, or otherwise somewhere other than in the foreground. This serves to paint a compelling portrait of the restless youths in the film, who while away a hot, lazy summer by drifting on boats, voice chatting and playing video games at internet cafes, smoking, chewing betelnut, and having the occasional drunken binge in a karaoke bar. This all occurs in the ultimate dead-end town: there seem to be few opportunities or job prospects, no school, adults, or controlling authority, and the boys indulge in petty crime and thuggery. One of the characters manages to escape this place at the conclusion (although it’s hard to say for how long), while the others remain trapped in this endless, nothing existence.

Find out more about Betelnut.

Reveries of the Golden Triangle: Fujian Blue playing Friday

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Fujian Blue (dir. Robin Weng)

Robin Weng’s acclaimed feature Fujian Blue will screen at Asia Society this Friday, April 16, 2010 as part of the series “China’s Past, Present, and Future on Film.” dGenerate’s Kevin B. Lee will introduce the screening.

You can use discount code asia725 to buy tickets at the $7 member rate. Tickets can be purchased at the Asia Society website or at the Asia Society box office.

Fujian Blue (Jin Bi Hui Huang)
Robin WENG (WENG Shouming). China. 2007. 87 min. Narrative. Digibeta.
Friday, April 16, 6:45 pm

Here’s an exclusive review of the film by Mike Fu:

Subtropical reveries of money, sex, and power dominate the golden triangle of southern China in this gritty neorealist drama from Robin Weng (Weng Shouming). Featuring idyllic natural landscapes side by side with Fujian province’s urban sprawl, Weng’s narrative follows a group of young hoodlums circulating carefree in a vapid nightlife of karaoke bars and dance halls. By day, they pursue a more malicious endeavor to extort money from local housewives, whose husbands have made their fortunes abroad and left them floundering at home. The film opens contrasting rows of decrepit houses with breathtaking mansions, reminiscent of a southern Californian suburb, glistening beneath the sun. Already the dichotomy of contemporary Chinese society becomes apparent: the rift between haves and have-nots threatens to grow ever wider, and the stakes only become higher for a younger generation willing to risk everything.


Free Screenings of Tibetan Filmmaker Pema Tseden at Asia Society

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Asia Society, Columbia University-Modern Tibetan Studies, Trace Foundation, Maysles Institute, and Kham Film Project present:

Soul-Searching in Tibet: Films by Pema Tseden (Wanma Caidan)

April 10 & 15, 2010
**Filmmaker Pema Tseden Q&A on April 10th**
Screenings at Asia Society and Museum, 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, NYC

The Search (dir. Pema Tseden)

Asia Society, Columbia University-Modern Tibetan Studies, Trace Foundation, Maysles Institute, and Kham Film Project present the ground-breaking work of filmmaker Pema Tseden (Wanma Caidan in Chinese), who has emerged as the outstanding cinematic voice of Tibet. Hailing from the Tibetan area of Amdo (Qinghai) and trained at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy where he was its first ever Tibetan student, Pema Tseden has made award-winning films that meditate on the meaning of culture and tradition in contemporary life, with Tibet as his canvas. The Tibet in his films is not the one that has been exoticized in Western cinema, or promoted as an epic example of progress and modernization in Chinese film. Instead, he has created a raw, observant, and tender film language to show the detailed tapestry of contemporary Tibetan experiences. Pema Tseden speaks of his art in relation to the traditional Tibetan aesthetic of the thangka or scroll paintings: “they’re like a panorama: all the stories are in one picture.”

This two-film series includes free screenings of Pema Tseden’s new film The Search (2009) and feature debut The Silent Holy Stones (2005) at Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue (E 70 Street), New York City. Pema Tseden will be available in New York for interviews between now and April 15, 2010.

Free admission. Limit to two per person. Ticket registration available at or in-person at Asia Society. To purchase tickets or for more information, please call (212) 517-ASIA or visit

Program and further details after the break.