Posts Tagged ‘crossing the mountain’

On the Edge of Documentary in China: The Films of Yang Rui at NYU

Monday, December 13th, 2010

The Bimo Records (dir. Yang Rui)

Event Date and Time:

December 17, 2010
1:30pm – 7:30pm


Department of Cinema Studies, Michelson Theater
721 Broadway, Room 648
New York, NY 10003

On the Edge of Documentary in China: The Films of Yang Rui

1:30pm – 3:00pm
Bimo Records Bimoji (2006, 91 min, English subtitles)
In the Daliang Mountains of Sichuan live the tribal Yi people. Their priests, or bimo, communicate with the spirit world on behalf of the community. Yang follows the lives of three bimo: The Spell Casting Bimo, from a clan famous for their curses and whose black magic is now forbidden by the government; The Soul Calling Bimo who cures the sick and calls to souls for help and good fortune; and thirdly, The Village Cadre Bimo, empowered by the government with religious and political status as a cadre.
Winner, Best Documentary Award in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan Student Film Festival (2008), nominated for Basil Wright Film Prize in Britain Royal Anthropology Film Festival (2007), shown at Locarno, and the Margaret Mead Film Festival (2006)

3:00pm – 3:30pm Break

3:30pm – 5:15pm
Crossing the Mountain Fanshan (2009, 98 min, English subtitles)
Violence lurks in the forest – headhunters, bombs, riflemen — but so do games, puzzles, dances and love. “Crossing the Mountain” emerges in fragments whose young protagonists live with the ghosts of past wars. Yang spent much time over a three-year period with the Wa people on the Chinese border with Burma, collecting their stories to produce this highly unusual, experimental ethnographically inspired fiction, producing a mysterious film, full of beautiful landscapes, dreamlike silent connections, and eerily gorgeous light. Documentary, story, mythmaking and ethnography, the film is as tough in its anti-exoticizing savvy as it is captivating in its embrace of an intangible spirituality.
Shown at Hong Kong Film Festival (2009); The 40th Berlinale (2010); Vancouver International Film Festival (2010)

5:30pm – 6:30pm Q&A with the Filmmaker, Yang Rui

6:30pm – 7:30pm Reception

About the Director Yang Rui

Yang Rui was born in 1975 in Liaoning Province in northeastern China and graduated from the Journalism Department of Liaoning University in 1995. She then became a documentary director in Liaoning TV and CCTV. Yang graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 2005 with a BFA while working as Tian Zhuangzhuang’s assistant director for the productions Delamu and Go Master. She lives in Beijing.

Presented by The Department of Cinema Studies and The Center for Religion and Media

Sponsored by The Center for Media, Culture and History, China House, NYU, & with the support of the Asian Cultural Council, and the NYU Humanities Initiative

This event is free and open to the public

Shelly on Film: Deeper Into Dragons and Tigers

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

By Shelly Kraicer

Rumination (dir. Xu Ruotao)

The 2010 Vancouver International Film Festival (September 30 to October 15) has just concluded. This was my fourth year programming Chinese language films for VIFF’s Dragons and Tigers section for East Asian cinema; this year’s edition featured 43 features and 21 shorts, co-curated by Tony Rayns and myself. I selected 19 features and three shorts: 12 from China, 4 from Hong Kong, 3 from Taiwan, 2 from Malaysia, and one from Singapore. Details of the films from the People’s Republic of China, including comments derived from my catalogue notes for VIFF, can be found below.

Within the D&T section, the Dragons and Tigers Award for Young Cinema, programmed by Tony Rayns, featured 8 films by young, as yet “undiscovered” directors. The jury, comprised of Jia Zhangke, Bong Joon-ho, and Denis Côté, awarded its prize to the Japanese film Good Morning World!, directed by Hirohara Satoru. Two special mentions were awarded: one to the Chinese film Rumination (Fanchu), by Xu Ruotao, and one to Phan Dang Di’s Vietnamese film Don’t Be Afraid B!

As usual, I chose more films from China than from any other territory. I try each year to balance at least two goals in my programming: I want to give VIFF audiences a sense of the increasing variety of Chinese language filmmaking, both in the independent sector, and in commercial genres. At the same time, it has always been VIFF’s policy and my own personal preference to highlight the work of independent young filmmakers working outside of the system of official censorship and distribution (independent tizhiwai films). Indie documentary filmmaking continues to be particularly strong in China, and I could only choose a few examples: it would have been easy to devote the bulk of my 9 feature length film slots to Chinese independent films this year.


A New Voice on Chinese Film: Dan Edwards’ Screening China

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Directors Jia Zhangke, Wang Xiaoshuai and Lou Ye at the Beijing premiere of Wang's Chongqing Blues (photo courtesy of Screening China)

We’ve been following Dan Edwards‘ blog Screening China for the past several weeks, and it’s quickly shaping up to be an important source for reviews on the latest in Chinese film, especially from the indie/arthouse side. Dan, who is based in Beijing, writes for The Beijinger and Real Time Arts, among other publications. We’ve been linking all year to his coverage of our films and filmmakers: a review of Ghost Town; an interview with Liu Jiayin; a profile on documentary filmmakers; and a recap of the Hong Kong International Film Festival. He’s contributed a lot in a relatively short time, and it’s good to be able to access his content on his blog (which, ironically, is blocked in China).

Here are some recent highlights from his blog:


Shelly on Film: Bumping against Boundaries in Chinese Film Culture

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Thomas Mao (dir. Zhu Wen)

By Shelly Kraicer

During a recent interview with an independent Chinese journalist, I was somewhat taken aback, but also quite amused by her rather pointed question to me: “In an online discussion of an article you wrote recently, some [anonymous] commenter was skeptical that Westerners could be so interested in debating Chinese movies and ideology, when in fact it has nothing to do with them. What do you think?”

What could I think? I remember reading the original comment the journalist was referring to, and noting at the time that the implied (and oft-heard) background to this attitude was something along the lines of “outsiders [like you] are fundamentally unequipped to comment on (write about / research about / review) our Chinese films (painting / dramas / novels), so just what do you think you are doing, anyway?

At the risk of answering one cultural judgment with another, I find this display of an aggressively protective attitude to Chinese culture to be distinctly Beijing-ese. Hong Kong, Taipei and Shanghai tend to be much more relaxed about foreigners in their midst, given their cosmopolitan histories. Their urban intellectual cultures more readily admit “other” voices — foreign voices, alternative points of view — with fewer hangups than Beijing’s thriving and otherwise open intellectual culture. Beijing has long been the capital of mainland Chinese independent film and avant-garde culture. No less than half of the dGenerate Films catalog are by Beijing-based filmmakers: Jia Zhangke, Liu Jiayin, and Cui Zi’en, to name a few. And yet, despite its openness to progressive artisitic activity, Beijing has an intensely policed view of the cultural “other” and the potential role of these “others” in its cultural discourse.

(Article continues after the break.)