Posts Tagged ‘chris berry’

A Visit with “Red Collector” Liu Debao

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

"Red Collector" Liu Debao in his studio filled with vintage Mao memorabilia (photo: Shanghai Journal)

On his blog Shanghai Journal, Andrew Field reports on his encounter with Liu Debao, a Shanghai artist who has collected over 3,600 film reels from the Mao era. Field first heard about Liu from an interview with cinema scholar Chris Berry posted on our site. He visited Liu in his studio along with Ying Qian of Harvard, who is currently researching Mao era Chinese cinema. A full report of their visit can be found on Field’s blog.

Two films that are probably not in Liu’s collection, but are essential records of Mao era China, are Though I Am Gone and Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul, both directed by Hu Jie. Learn more about them in dGenerate’s catalog.

CinemaTalk: Chris Berry on Cultural Revolution Cinema

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Interviewed by Michael Chenkin

Chris Berry

Chris Berry is Professor of film and television studies at Goldsmiths University of London, and co-editor of the recent volume The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement: For the Public Record. Most recently he co-curated a special film series “A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire: The Cultural Revolution in the Cinemawith Katja Wiederspahn for the Film Archiv Austria, with the cooperation with the Museum für Völkerkunde (Ethnological Museum and the Film Archive Austria)in its special exhibition “The Culture of the Cultural Revolution.” We caught up with Professor Berry to learn more about the films and his experience in curating the series.

dGF: Has this exhibition changed your understanding of the Cultural Revolution and film? What were the major obstacles you faced in curating the exhibition at *Film Archiv Austria*?

Chris Berry: I guess my thinking about the Cultural Revolution was already changing along with a lot of other peoples’, and the process of putting together the series became part of that. I was very struck when I read the Tsinghua University professor and leading mainland public intellectual Professor Wang Hui’s comments in “Contemporary Chinese Thought and the Question of Modernity,” where he argued that the legitimacy of the entire contemporary Chinese political, social and cultural formation is built on the repudiation of the Cultural Revolution. Along with everyone else, I had taken that repudiation for granted for a long time and not gone much further. If today’s combination of neo-liberal economics and authoritarian politics needs a stereotype of the Cultural Revolution as a disastrous combination of the opposite — a command economy and anarchic politics — maybe that’s too simple. It’s not that I want to embrace the Cultural Revolution! But I think it made me realize that we need to decouple the Cultural Revolution from legitimization of the present to get a more complex understanding of it.


New Book on the New Chinese Documentary Movement

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
By Isabella Tianzi Cai

The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement: For the Public Record (authors Chris Berry, Lu Xinyu, Lisa Rofel)

A new book by three eminent China scholars is out – The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement: For the Public Record edited by Chris Berry, Lu Xinyu, and Lisa Rofel. Peter Monaghan has a full report for Moving Image Archive News.

Rofel, Professor of Anthropology from the University of California Santa Cruz, and Berry, film professor from the University of London, first received a grant from the University of California’s Pacific Rim Research Program to do research on independent Chinese documentaries in 2003. Back then (and as still is the case), the state film archive of China, China Film Archive/China Film Art Research Institute, did not bother building a collection of independent Chinese documentaries. In order to get their hands on these undocumented works, the two professors relied entirely on the close-knit community of independent filmmakers and a few film enthusiasts for second-hand copies.


Report on the China Independent Film Festival by Chris Berry

Friday, January 15th, 2010
Spring Fever

Spring Fever (dir. Lou Ye)

In the new issue of Senses of Cinema, Chris Berry offers a review of the 6th China Independent Film Festival, held this past October in Nanjing. An excerpt:

By international standards CIFF is a relatively small and under-resourced event. Screenings are scattered across a range of minor colleges, art galleries and museums in Nanjing, a former capital up the Yangtze from Shanghai. This year, approximately 70 experimental films, documentaries and dramatic features, almost all of them low-budget Chinese films, were included. Lou Ye’s Chunfeng Chenzui de Yewan (Spring Fever) won the Best Film award, and Ying Liang’s Hao Mao (Good Cats) and Zhang Jianchi’s Bai Qingting (Take Me to Vietnam) shared the Jury Prize. Anywhere else in the world, such an event would be a minor festival attracting little if any international coverage. But the very particular circumstances of China mean that CIFF can claim to be the most important film festival in the country.

Berry goes on to explain the significance of the festival’s programming, describes the collegiate atmosphere of the community forged by the festival, and identifies trends in Chinese independent filmmaking as reflected in the festival lineup. As a fellow attendee of the festival, I can attest to the festival’s extraordinary atmosphere and a special sense of camaraderie cultivated among its participating artists.

The rest of Berry’s report can be found at Senses of Cinema.

Summer Program in Chinese Film

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

The University of Washington is now accepting applications for their third Summer Program in Chinese Film History and Criticism held at the Beijing Film Academy. The Program will be take place on June 28 to July 25, 2010.

Students worldwide are welcome to the program, administered through the University of Washington. Twelve quarter credits are transferable to other institutions. The program is especially well suited for upper-level undergraduates who intend to continue their studies in Chinese cinema, and for graduate students and professors who plan to teach courses involving Chinese films. No knowledge of Chinese is required.

The courses will be taught by professors from outside Asia (including Chris Berry, Yomi Braester, and James Tweedie) and a variety of faculty from the Beijing Film Academy. The program also includes meetings with filmmakers. The program cost (including tuition and lodging) is $3,300 + registration fee. Rolling admission will start on January 1, 2010.

Further details on curriculum and application procedures can be found on the program’s website. Questions should be addressed to the program director, Professor Yomi Braester: yomi @

Ghost Town: Getting Back to Roots

Friday, October 16th, 2009

by Lu Chen

Zhao Dayong’s Ghost Town is about alienation and distance, about aimless wanderers and broken hearts, yet it is shot with the tenderness of a root-seeking journey. In this three-hour documentary, the meditative rhythm parallels the pace of life depicted. The scale of screen time embodies the scale of lost history the film tries to capture through extraordinary visual sensitivity.


Independents on the Sidelines: Chris Berry on the Shanghai International Film Festival

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Oxhide II (2009, dir. Liu Jiayin)

Held on June 13-21, 2009, the 12th Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) was, to quote Chris Berry, “bigger than ever.” In his review of the festival on Senses of Cinema, Berry analyzed the continued growth and unusual challenges confronting this “large and ambitious A-list festival.” The subtle and ambiguous status of Chinese independent cinema is of particular concern.

For this relative newcomer to the international festival circuit, the greatest challenge is to attract strong entries for its main competition. Berry notes that the unavoidable self-awareness of “both political sensitivities and the expectations of the public and the authorities” makes the selection of foreign films “idiosyncratic, to say the least.” In the domestic sector, the official-sponsored status of the festival prevents it showing Chinese independent films – films that have not been through the government censorship system, although the various sidebar events managed to “provide spaces where independents can appear and participate.” Berry especially noted the presence of Liu Jiayin and praised highly her new work Oxhide II, inevitably absent in the festival:


Chris Berry on Ghost Town

Friday, September 25th, 2009

I received the following message from Chris Berry, who had recently watched the film Ghost Town by Zhao Dayong, which will have its international premiere at the 2009 New York Film Festival. In these remarks, he places the film within the context of the Chinese independent documentary movement. (For more information, see CinemaTalk interviews with Chris Berry and China documentary scholar Lu Xinyu.)

I finished watching Ghost Town last night. It’s a very fine film indeed. One of the reviews mentioned Jia Zhangke. But I immediately thought of Wang Bing. The three-part structure, the epic historical theme with larger social implications, the patient observational filmmaking, the people speaking to camera but the filmmaker’s own absence, all these things made me think of Wang Bing. And like his films, it has a strong sense of historical consciousness, an eye for unique material, and a real sympathy for the people in the film and their tough lives. It’s a testament to the continuing strength of the Chinese documentary movement.


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.