Posts Tagged ‘cao fei’

Cao Fei and Chinese Youth Culture

Thursday, July 7th, 2011
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Cao Fei (photo credit: The New York Times)

By Ariella Tai

Internationally renowned visual artist Cao Fei has recently put on a new show entitled “Play Time,” pieces of which are currently on view at the Lombard-Freid Projects in Chelsea, New York City. The show takes inspiration from children’s television shows like “Thomas and Friends,” “Teletubbies” and the BBC program “The Night Garden,” as well as other forms of youth entertainment, like puppets and miniature skateboards. The New York Times profile observes, “The show seems to be a transitional one for Ms. Cao, who plans to shut down “RMB City” [her acclaimed online interactive environment] this summer. But it has her trademark sensibility: pop and playful on the surface, complex social portrait underneath.” Her reconstruction of Thomas the Tank Engine travels around Beijing as it picks up construction debris and transports it to a large dump near the Summer Palace, while her skate park for tiny skateboards exhibits architecture reflecting the highly developed landscapes of contemporary Chinese cities.

More after the break.

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Blurring the Boundaries Between Art and Film in China

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Meishi Street (dir. Ou Ning)

By Sara Beretta

Everyone, in a sense, is an artist, in that we all strive to better express ourselves. As bricoleurs, we all do our best to depict our thought, wishes and fears, making use of the media we were given (voice, gestures and action, broadly speaking) and employing techno media, in the big and blurry cloud of creativity, communication and experimentation. People mix sounds, images and what else occurs in order to be better heard and understood or, on the contrary, to conceive meanings in different and alternative, sometimes obscure and imaginative, ways.

It’s not that surprising, then, that boundaries are blurring in art, as more creatives are exploring liminal areas and practices to narrate themselves and the world they live in. This is true for contemporary Chinese artists and filmmakers, mixing practices and channels to convey their ideas. Renowned examples include artist Ai Weiwei’s work in documentaries, Ou Ning and Cao Fei’s projects in video art and films (including dGenerate’s titles Meishi Street and San Yuan Li, as well as the productions Renminbi City and Vitamin Creative Space), multimedia works by Yang Fudong, and Song Tao’s Birds Heads. In a recent article in Red Box Review, curator Samantha Culp expresses her wishes for the outcome of this mixing, specifically in how it might help sustain China’s independent film scene:

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Defending Culture and Democracy in Chinese Independent Documentaries

Monday, August 30th, 2010

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

The latest issue of Hong Kong-based Open Magazine features three articles on citizens’ documentary in Chinese civil rights movements. One of them, written by Teng Biao, who is a human rights lawyer in Beijing, has been translated and published at Interlocals.net. See original.

In the article, Teng gives a comprehensive overview of the civic documentary movement in China for the past few decades. While the facts are impressive in both volume and numbers, the ideas aren’t all new to us. He writes,

Information monopoly is designed to benefit those in power, while Citizens Documentary can eliminate the cover-ups in certain extent. Only a few documentaries can already make the dictatorship pay a huge price. One can imagine that with the expansion of the Civic Documentary campaign, covering up truth will be a futile and obsolete attempt. Till then, there should be a significant change in the mode of power operation. (Interlocals)

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Meishi Street and San Yuan Li in Portland (OR)

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Anyone in the Portland, Oregon area has the chance to view two dGenerate films at the Portland Art Museum’s NW Film Center in the coming weeks. Ou Ning’s Meishi Street will be screening on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7 pm and Ou Ning and Cao Fei’s San Yuan Li screens Saturday, Dec. 5 at 2 pm. Both of these films are part of the NW Film Center’s Lens on China II series, which they describe thusly:

Since the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, China has undergone a series of profound, ever-accelerating transformations spurred by experiments with a market economy and a more open approach to foreign investment and external cultures. In the last decade the consequences of these changes have dramatically impacted China and its place in the world. Concurrent with the Portland Art Museum’s CHINA DESIGN NOW exhibition, the Northwest Film Center continues to explore the perspectives of Chinese and western filmmakers whose works reflect on the broad currents of contemporary change in Chinese society. As China’s past and future collide, the works by these media artists provide unique insight into the social and aesthetic confusions, obstacles, and opportunities being navigated in the interstices between history, daily reality, and the future’s promises.

Other films screening as part of this series include Jia Zhangke’s 24 City, Ning Ying’s I Love Beijing and Perpetual Motion, and Jennifer Baichwal’s Manufactured Landscapes.

More details can be found at the NW Film Center site.

CinemaTalk: A Conversation with Chris Berry

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Chris Berry

dGenerate Films is pleased to introduce CinemaTalk, an ongoing series of conversations with esteemed scholars of Chinese cinema studies. These conversations will be presented on this site in audio podcast and/or text format. They are intended to help the Chinese cinema studies community keep abreast of the latest work being done in the field, as well as to learn what recent Chinese films are catching the attention of others. This series reflects our mission to bring valuable resources and foster community around the field of Chinese film studies.

For our first CinemaTalk, we spoke with Chris Berry, Professor of Film and Television Studies in the Department of Media and Communication at Goldsmiths, University of London. Some of Chris’ work includes:

  • Author, Cinema and the National: China on Screen (Columbia University Press and Hong Kong University Press, 2006) with Mary Farquhar
  • Author, Postsocialist Cinema in Post-Mao China: The Cultural Revolution after the Cultural Revolution (New York: Routledge, 2004)
  • Editor (with Ying Zhu), TV China (Indiana University Press, 2008)
  • Editor, Chinese Films in Focus II (British Film Institute, 2008)
  • Editor (with Feii Lu), Island on the Edge: Taiwan New Cinema and After (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2005)
  • Editor (with Fran Martin and Audrey Yue), Mobile Cultures: New Media and Queer Asia (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003)
  • Translator and Editor, Ni Zhen’s Memoirs from the Beijing Film Academy: The Origins of China’s Fifth Generation Filmmakers (Duke University Press, 2002)
  • Author, “Imaging the Globalized City: Rem Koolhaas, U-thèque, and the Pearl River Delta,” in Cinema at the City’s Edge, edited by Yomi Braester and James Tweedie (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, forthcoming), part of a series TransAsia: Screen Cultures, co-edited by Chris Berry and Koichi Iwabuchi

Kevin Lee, dGenerate’s VP of Programming of Education, spoke with Chris about various topics from his current work and areas of focus, to comparisons between contemporary Chinese cinema and the Fifth Generation filmmakers whom he helped to champion in the 1980s and 1990s, to which recent Chinese films that have excited him the most.

Play the Podcast

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Download it here (right-click to download). (File size: 28.7MB)

Full transcript follows after the break.

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The dGenerate Films Birth Story

Monday, June 8th, 2009

We’re thrilled at dGenerate Films to be launching our first slate of films. In honor of the occasion, I was recently thinking about the journey we undertook to get here.

The idea for the company was inspired by one of our films, San Yuan Li, by Ou Ning and Cao Fei. By a chance encounter, I indirectly helped Andrew Gluckman, now a good friend, book a screening of San Yuan Li at New York University in December 2007. At the time, I had no inkling of what was to happen. Nor did I know anything about the film. But when I saw San Yuan Li, I was blown away by the artistry and production methodology of the film. After the screening, Ou Ning told me many films in China were being made underground, meaning without censorship and without any chance at domestic distribution.

I knew there was an audience here for these films – given the immense interest in China, and a general lack of access to media made from within China, it seemed like an obvious one-two connection. Problem was, I was and still am an independent film producer, a consuming profession. I self-distributed films I produced, but the thought of tunneling a new route to bring underground Chinese films to the U.S. was daunting.

So I mulled over the idea, and a month later, it came out in an idle chat between myself and Brian Newman, Tribeca Film Institute’s Executive Director, as we were riding the free Sundance Film Festival shuttle bus. Brian said he was developing a new platform called Reframe designed specifically to distribute independent films to the academic market. He promised to accept all the films I brought back China. Reframe would take care of the physical manufacturing and order fulfillment. Brian’s offer suddenly made the idea much less daunting. I got back on the phone with Ou Ning, who immediately sent me forty films to watch.

The content was there, the distribution network was coming, all that was needed now was the missing link between the two.

More information on San Yuan Li can be found here.

Come back soon for Part 2 of “The Birth of dGenerate Films” by dGenerate President Karin Chien