Posts Tagged ‘cinema’

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 AsiaSociety.org/NewChina.

Tickets: $7 members; $9 students/seniors; $11 nonmembers. Series discount available. VisitAsiaSociety.org/NewChina 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)

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CinemaTalk: A Conversation with Professor Guo-Juin Hong on Taiwan Cinema, 1949 and Documentaries

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

By Michael Chenkin

Guo-Juin Hong is Andrew W. Mellon Associate Professor of Chinese Cultural Studies at Duke University. Hong has published articles on such topics as early Shanghai cinema, new Taiwan cinema, documentary film, and queer visual culture. His essay on colonial modernity in 1930s Shanghai was the winner of the 2009 Katherine Kovacs Essay Award, Honorable Mention, and his dissertation received the 2005 Dissertation of the Year Award, Honorable Mention, both by the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. Hong teaches courses on film theory and historiography, Chinese-language cinemas, melodrama, documentary, and visual culture.

Earlier this year Guo published Taiwan Cinema: A Contested Nation on Screen (Palgrave Macmillan). The book is described as “A groundbreaking study of Taiwan cinema, this is the first English language book that covers its entire history. Hong revises how Taiwan cinema is taught and studied by taking into account not only the auteurs of New Taiwan Cinema, but also the history of popular genre films before the 1980s. This work will be essential reading for students and scholars of Taiwan and Chinese-language cinemas and of great value to those interested in the larger context of East Asian cultural history as well as film and visual studies in general.”

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dGF: Could you tell me a little about your present interests in Chinese language cinema. What are you concentrating on right now, and what do you have planned for the future?

GJH: My book came out in February of this year and it is the first and only full-length book in English language on Taiwan cinema that covers its entire history. In that book, I looked at the question of national cinema as the core problematic because of the unique status of Taiwan. After 400 years of colonial history, Taiwan seemed to straddle between the status of nation and non-nation. Questions of national cinema seem outdated because of all the discussion of the transnational and the global. However, I find that to be over-simplistic. Even though national cinema is a very problematic category, it is still deployed at all times for other minor cinemas in relation to Hollywood. I go through the history of Taiwan cinema and I locate different critical historical moments to test the questions of nation in cinema which is think is still a very productive historio-graphical exercise.

Now that it is done, I hope that it has opened up doors for people to continue paying attention to not only Chinese language cinemas in general, but also Taiwan cinema specifically because especially in English language study, Taiwan cinema before 1982 has always been neglected. It was a situation that didn’t get at least partially corrected until a year ago when I guest edited a special issue for the Journal of Chinese Cinemas, focusing on what we call the “missing years” between 1960 and 1980. Those years were obviously important to the history of Taiwan cinema but also I think it is an important part of the larger cultural history of East Asia. This is the work I have been concentrating on the last few years.

dGF: What about your newest projects?

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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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Shelly on Film: Tremors and Traumas: Notes on Three Chinese Earthquake Movies

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

By Shelly Kraicer

Buried (dir. Wang Libo)

It’s been earthquake movie season in China ever since the terrible Wenchuan earthquake that struck Sichuan province on May 12th 2008. I’ve seen fourteen of these films since then — documentaries, features, and shorts, including titles like May Day, Don’t Cry Mom, Who Killed Our Children, and Quake de Love — and I’ve by no means done a systematic search. This doesn’t include the films that mention the earthquake in passing: the number would then increase three- or four-fold.

What makes this subject so essential for Chinese filmmakers to grapple with? The Sichuan earthquake is a disaster seared into the consciousness of most people living in China, where national mass media gave saturation coverage to the earthquake and its aftermath. The subject naturally lends itself both to propaganda-style tales of heroic rescure and moral uplift, and equally to outsider critiques of government policies that made the destruction worse. It seems that there is an earthquake for every political colouring, and every possible calibration of mass media coverage (and exploitation).

I’d like to look a bit more closely at a couple of films from what we might call opposite ends of the spectrum, and one right in the middle. On one end is Wang Libo’s Buried (Yanmai), an independent documentary from 2009. Situated at the other end of is Feng Xiaogang’s massive blockbuster Aftershock (Tangshan da dizhen, 2010), the most popular Chinese film in history, measured by the box office. And right in the middle is 1428, Du Haibin’s documentary from 2009.

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