Posts Tagged ‘crime and punishment’

Zhao Liang (Petition, Crime and Punishment) directs AIDS documentary in China

Friday, January 14th, 2011

A scene from Together (dir. Zhao Liang)

This week on dGenerate we will be featuring articles related to Zhao Liang’s acclaimed documentary Crime and Punishment to coincide with the screening of his films at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Click here for more information on the screenings.

Dan Edwards reports:

Zhao Liang is undoubtedly one of the leading lights of the independent Chinese documentary scene, and in the past I’ve written about his films Petition and Crime and Punishment… I was surprised to hear… that Zhao had just completed a film about HIV in China that had been passed for official release.

Indeed it is remarkable that the director of probing documentaries depicting Chinese police interrogation tactics on the North Korean border and the suppression of petitioners in the capital of Beijing now has the opportunity to make a film that can screen publicly in China. Zhao’s new film Together was able to be made as a companion piece Life Is a Miracle, a mainstream feature about a couple suffering from an illness suggesting HIV, with megastars Zhang Ziyi and Aaron Kwok directed by Gu Changwei. Together documents Zhao’s efforts to reach out to the community of HIV carriers and enlist several to appear in Gu’s film. Zhao’s film even has mainstream coverage in the Chinese press, as evidenced by this feature in China Daily.

Dan Edwards gives his first impressions of the film, plus an interview with Zhao Liang, on his site Screening China. Zhao reflects:

Before the shoot I had no knowledge at all of HIV – I gradually learned through preparing and shooting the film. Actually the Chinese are a very tolerant people. The discrimination is because people lack knowledge and mainstream media stigmatises the disease.

Read more at Screening China.

Reviews Are In: Unanimous Praise for Crime and Punishment and Petition, Now Playing in New York

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Petition (dir. Zhao Liang)

Today is the first day of screenings for the indomitable Zhao Liang at Anthology Film Archives, and we couldn’t be happier with the press coverage so far. Here are some choice clips from reviews by New York critics for Zhao’s films Crime and Punishment (opening tonight at 6 and 9; additional screenings Saturday and Sunday) and Petition (starting tomorrow and screening daily at 6:30 and 9:30). More reviews and directions to Anthology after the break.

EMERGING FROM ARDUOUS, dangerous, in-the-trenches work, Chinese filmmaker Zhao Liang‘s documentary investigations open onto the profound problems of a country often kept hidden by authorities. His interest is in the banal mechanics of systematic oppression: His remarkable debut Crime and Punishment (2007), for instance, provides a rare look into the People’s Armed Police, a branch of law enforcement similar to the military in its regimented lifestyle and coldly abusive administration of “justice.”

Michael Joshua Rowin, ArtForum

Crime and Punishment (2007) follows the paramilitary People’s Armed Police on the beat, gaining extraordinary access to a station in the rugged, frigid Northeast, on the North Korean border. The staff of young officers – pettily prideful, swimming in their uniforms – is naive enough not to self-censor for the camera. They show as bullies, incompetent if not malicious, with their lone investigative technique a face-slap.

– Nick Pinkerton, The Village Voice

Although it has its clear literary antecedents in Kafka and Bleak House, Petition‘s look at the arbitrary and corrupt nature of authority is of a specifically Chinese variety – not to mention the authentic stuff of actuality. A case of life imitating art – or rather art documenting life imitating art – Zhao Liang’s non-fiction film continues the director’s dissection of petty Sino-officialdom begun in his first film, Crime and Punishment. While that movie recorded the power abuses of soldiers policing the Chinese-North Korean border, Zhao’s latest film moves to Beijing to document the bureaucratic nightmare known as the petition system.

– Andrew Schenker, The L Magazine

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The Vicious Circle of Justice: Zhao Liang’s Crime and Punishment

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

This week on dGenerate we will be featuring articles related to Zhao Liang’s acclaimed documentary Crime and Punishment to coincide with the screening of his films at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Click here for more information on the screenings.

This article was originally published November 4, 2010.

by Dan Edwards

Zhao Liang provided one of the most heartrending Chinese documentaries of recent times last year with Petition, an epic work about petitioners living on the fringes of China’s capital. It’s much rarer, however, to see stories about those enforcing the rules in the People’s Republic – the nature of Chinese state institutions means access is usually impossible. Which makes Zhao’s earlier film Crime and Punishment (Zui Yu Fa, 2007) all the more extraordinary, providing as it does an intimate snapshot of life inside a People’s Armed Police (PAP) station.

As Zhao explained in an interview earlier this year, he was only able to gain access to the station, located on the Chinese-Korean border in the remote northeast, because “these people are politically more naive and less politically savvy than their Beijing counterparts.” Zhao does not just exploit the officers’ naivety to expose their petty abuses of power however – the uniformed community provides a microcosm of the broader social structures informing the exercise of state power in contemporary China.

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CinemaTalk: Conversation with Zhao Liang, director of Crime and Punishment and Petition

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

This week on dGenerate we will be featuring articles related to Zhao Liang’s acclaimed documentary Crime and Punishment to coincide with the screening of his films at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Click here for more information on the screenings.

This article was originally published August 17, 2010.

By Kevin B. Lee

Zhao Liang

Zhao Liang is one of China’s leading artists working in video, photography and documentary film. His work examines both rural and urban realities, fast-paced progress and nostalgia, the nature of politics, and the beauty of the natural world. He clearly connects with the underprivileged, whom he considers to be the engine of society, and homes in on the everyday aspects of life ignored by public institutions. He has directed two feature documentaries, Crime and Punishment and Petition, and his videos, photos and installations have been exhibited around the world.

To commemorate dGenerate Films’ release of Crime and Punishment, what follows is a transcript from Zhao Liang’s audience Q&A following a screening of the film at the China Institute on Feburary 5, 2010. Additionally, there are excerpts from a supplementary interview with Zhao conducted by dGenerate Films’ Kevin B. Lee.

Thanks to Isabella Tianzi Cai, Vincent Cheng and Yuqian Yan for their translation of the interviews.

1. From the audience Q&A following the China Institute screening of Crime and Punishment:

Question: Could you say something about how this film has been distributed in China and how it’s been received? Has it been screened in theaters? Has it been on the television as well as on the web?

Zhao: In China, this film was screened once in Beijing Independent Film Festival. Other than that, very rarely have people had the opportunity to see films like this, unless they go to certain art galleries where they might have such films. So it is definitely hard to have distribution done in China. Right now dGenerate Films Inc. in the United States is helping me distribute it here.

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“Stunning:” Crime and Punishment Reviewed by Variety

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

This week on dGenerate we will be featuring articles related to Zhao Liang’s acclaimed documentary Crime and Punishment to coincide with the screening of his films at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Click here for more information on the screenings.

Crime and Punishment (dir. Zhao Liang)

This rave by Robert Koehler in Variety was one of the key reviews that drove us to pursue Crime and Punishment and eventually distribute it as part of the dGenerate catalog. Reading it, you can see why. Better yet, see the film at Anthology Film Archives during its run!

Here are some choice excerpts. The full review can be accessed at Variety.

———-

By Robert Koehler

In his stunning “Crime and Punishment,” documentary filmmaker Zhao Liang upturns the common perception that Chinese media and artists have little or no access to corridors of the military and law enforcement. At the same time, Zhao reveals a community hugging the border with North Korea where lawbreaking and extreme poverty go hand-in-hand. Rigorously observational and sometimes quite amusing when it isn’t shocking, pic further cements China’s position as a doc powerhouse, and should spark tube and cable sales in most major markets.

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Chinese Law Enforcement Brings Out Its Feminine Side

Monday, January 10th, 2011

This week on dGenerate we will be featuring articles related to Zhao Liang’s acclaimed documentary Crime and Punishment to coincide with the screening of his films at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Click here for more information on the screenings.

By Ariella Tai

Photo by Du Bin for The New York Times

Across China, the New York Times reports, governments have taken a rather blunt approach towards building a better public image for their urban law enforcers: hiring prettier ones. Chengguan, a special class of police, have become known for their willingness to utilize clubbing, thrashing and other forms of abuse in their efforts to discipline and maintain social order in recent years. In an attempt to improve this poor public image for the force, district officials in Chengdu have called for females between the ages of 18-22, with good figures and “orderly facial features” to serve, essentially, as decorations, or “flower vases…[with] other responsibilities]” according to an unnamed official. These female officers enjoy a limited tenure that ends at age 26, and lack even the power to confiscate the goods of the peddlers they are daily responsible for chasing into their assigned alleyways. Instead they serve in a supporting capacity, able only to threaten offenders with a report to their male supervisor.

This absurd aspect to Chinese law enforcement recalls Zhao Liang’s 2007 documentary, Crime and Punishment, which documents the daily lives of underworked military police on the border of North Korea. During an unforgiving winter, officers rigidly enforce law and order. They raid a private residence to bust an illegal mahjong game, casually abuse a pickpocket accused of throwing away evidence, and berate a confession out of a scrap collector working without a permit. The police switch between precise investigative procedure, explosions of violent fury, and moments of comic ineptitude, all captured incredibly before the camera.

We are proud to announce that Crime and Punishment will be presented on the big screen at the Anthology Film Archives. There will be showings Jan 13 at 6:45 & 9:15, and then one each on Sat and Sun, Jan 15 & 16 at 4:00.

Check here for more details. View a trailer below.

Zhao Liang’s Petition and Crime and Punishment Screening at Anthology Film Archives Next Week

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

We’re excited that the work of one of the preeminent filmmakers in China, Zhao Liang, will be showcased next week at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Zhao’s acclaimed, independently-produced documentaries Petition and Crime and Punishment will enjoy a week of screenings starting Thursday January 13 through Thursday, January 20. Screening details below, as well as on the dGenerate Films event page.

“Zhao Liang captures those sides of life that are ignored by official politics and, in so doing, acts as a chronicler of everyday life. Futility, running idle, stubbornness, and stamina are motifs shared by all of his films, while the dramatic consequences of the rapid economic and structural transformation in China constitute the continuous backdrop to his work.” (Quoted from the catalogue of the 2008 Berlin Biennial)

Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Avenue
New York, NY

Tickets may be purchased at the box office on date of screening.

Details on each film and screening times after the break.
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Profile on Current State of Chinese documentaries

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Karamay (dir. Xu Xin)

Taiwan News has a highly informative article by Yali Chen comparing documentary production and distribution in Taiwan and China. The article reports on a couple of documentary exhibition and promotion events that take place in Taipei in the fall: the Golden Horse Awards (where the Taiwanese doc Hip Hop Storm took the best documentary prize) and the CNEX Chinese Doc Forum (CCDF) where NT $300,000 are awarded to Chinese documentary projects in development (this year’s winner is Shen Ko-shang for Double Happiness Limited: The Crazy Chinese Wedding Industry).

CNEX CEO Ben Tsiang explained the mission of the CCDF in helping Chinese documentary filmmakers develop their skills in accessing the funding resources and audiences of the global marketplace. “It’s hard for Chinese-language documentaries to penetrate the global market due to the language barrier and Chinese filmmakers’ unfamiliarity with the rules of an international pitching session.”

Chinese documentary filmmaker and distributor Tammy Cheung makes a direct comparison between Taiwanese and Chinese documentaries in terms of their shooting style, subject matter and regard for a mainstream audience:

“In terms of subjects, shooting styles and editing skills, Taiwan’s films seem similar because most filmmakers like touching, personal stories with a pinch of softness,” Hong Kong-based director Tammy Cheung said, “Taiwanese filmmakers care more about what their audiences like.”

“Chinese documentaries look very different because they have a touch of aggressiveness and center around serious social issues such as legal reforms, the gap between the city and countryside, plus human rights of Tibetans and migrant workers.”

Zhu Rikun, Curator of the Beijing Independent Documentary Festival, adds, “Chinese independent nonfiction filmmakers care more about political and social issues.” Exemplary mainland documentaries mentioned include Xu Xin’s Karamay, Du Haibin’s 1428 (available through dGenerate Films), and Petition by Zhao Liang (whose Crime and Punishment is distributed by dGenerate).

Read the full article.

Zhao Liang’s Beijing Landscape Exhibition, now through December 7

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Poster for Beijing Landscape exhibition (click to englarge)

By Sara Beretta

In depicting the instability of China’s social environment, the work of Zhao Liang is a wake-up call to audiences. Zhao reflects his perspective through a range of visual approaches – photography, video and documentary – offering a valuable space for self-reflection and awareness. His gaze is elegant and artistic, gently detached yet sharply observant in picturing daily contradictions and human tragedies, offering a poetic reflection that shades into social criticism.

All of this makes his solo exhibition Beijing Landscape (Beijing Shanshui) a must-see event. Beijing Landscape, which runs from November 12 to December 7, is hosted at Studio-X, in partnership with Three Shadows Photography Center. Zhao’s 25-minute video Narrative Landscape, along with selected works from his previous Water Series (2004-2008) and Beijing Green Series (2004 – 2007) juxtapose tradition and modernity, both in nature and aesthetics, not transcending the commonplace but offering original and quiet introspection.

Zhao’s solo show also features his documentaries, starting with Crime and Punishment (2007, distributed by dGenerate). Conflicts between individuals, authority, state, society and environment flow throughout Zhao’s narrative. There’s also the masterpiece Petition, a 12-year project that intimately and dramatically shows the lives of petitioners in Beijing. Zhao’s committed approach immerses us in the petitioner’s plight, implying that anyone is potentially a victim of the dysfunctions of the social institutions governing China. As Zhao himself becomes an active participant in his own film, Petition demonstrates Judith Butler’s theory of how social reality is not a given but continually created as an illusion “through language, gesture, and all manner of symbolic social sign.” Zhao points out the oppressive contradictions governing China’s society, while depicting a humanist struggle whose pain is universally recogniziable.

Sara Beretta is an anthropologist and PhD student at Milan University, researching Chinese independent cinema and visual production.

The Vicious Circle of Justice: Zhao Liang’s Crime and Punishment

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

by Dan Edwards

Zhao Liang provided one of the most heartrending Chinese documentaries of recent times last year with Petition, an epic work about petitioners living on the fringes of China’s capital. It’s much rarer, however, to see stories about those enforcing the rules in the People’s Republic – the nature of Chinese state institutions means access is usually impossible. Which makes Zhao’s earlier film Crime and Punishment (Zui Yu Fa, 2007) all the more extraordinary, providing as it does an intimate snapshot of life inside a People’s Armed Police (PAP) station.

As Zhao explained in an interview earlier this year, he was only able to gain access to the station, located on the Chinese-Korean border in the remote northeast, because “these people are politically more naive and less politically savvy than their Beijing counterparts.” Zhao does not just exploit the officers’ naivety to expose their petty abuses of power however – the uniformed community provides a microcosm of the broader social structures informing the exercise of state power in contemporary China.

(more…)