Posts Tagged ‘dance’

Tape (Jiao Dai)

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

LI Ning. China, 2010. Documentary, 168 minutes.
Mandarin w/ English subtitles.

“A riveting portrait of an artist’s attempts at expression and conflicts with societal norms.” – Museum of Modern Art

Performance artist Li Ning turns his life into art in this epic work of experimental documentary.

For five grueling years, Li Ning documents his struggle to achieve success as an avant-garde artist while contending with the pressures of modern life in China. He is caught between two families: his wife, son and mother, whom he can barely support; and his enthusiastic but disorganized guerilla dance troupe. Li’s chaotic life becomes inseparable from the act of taping it, as if his experiences can only make sense on screen.

Tape shatters documentary conventions, utilizing a variety of approaches, including guerilla documentary, experimental street video, even CGI. Tape captures a decade’s worth of artistic aspirations and failures, while breaking new ground in individual expression in China. “Li succeeds in revealing his own soul” (Rotterdam International Film Festival).

Director’s Bio:

LI Ning is an avant-garde dancer and performance artist, who made his film debut with the documentary Tape.

Reviews

Select Film Festivals:

WINNER, Silver Digital Award, YunFest Documentary Festival

OFFICIAL SELECTION, MoMA Documentary Fortnight

OFFICIAL SELECTION, International Film Festival Rotterdam

OFFICIAL SELECTION, Jeonju International Film Festival

OFFICIAL SELECTION, Beijing Independent Documentary Film Festival

Trailer:

FORMATS
PRICE
AVAILABILITY
(This title is available in the US only)
DVD (Colleges, Universities, Institutions)
$295
Order Direct
DVD (K-12, Public Libraries, Select Groups) $195
Institutional Download
TBD
Coming Soon
Public Performance Exhibition (NTSC Beta, DVD)

Absurdity, Art, and Life on Tape: Report from the 2010 Reel China Documentary Biennial

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Tape (dir. Li Ning)

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

Published as part of Dong Week at dGenerate Films, a series of articles on Jia Zhangke and the art world in China.

Absurdity loomed large at the Reel China Documentary Biennial this year, held at New York University from October 15-17. The two film directors on hand, Huang Weikai and Du Haibin, repeatedly used “absurd” to describe the message that they wanted their films to convey. In Huang’s Disorder and Du’s 1428, this sense of absurdity is manifested acutely in their apocalyptic visions of urban Guangzhou and rural Sichuan province, respectively. It is as if in exchange for economic acceleration, China has traded its citizens’ sanity. No one can deny that in China progress is real, but it is also mindless. To quote Jean Baudrillard in his book The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena, progress “picks up speed precisely in proportion to its increasing indifference to its original aims.” We can perhaps say that, though the word is derogatory in meaning, “absurdity” is indicative of China’s final arrival at the dawn of post-modernity.

Perhaps no film exemplified this theme more comprehensively than Tape, contemporary avant-garde dancer Li Ning’s five year chronicle of his personal life, alternating between his struggles with two types of “family”: his oft-neglected wife, son and mother; and his enthusiastic but unstable dance troupe comprised of college students. Made amidst a massive urban renovation project performed on his hometown of Jinan, the film is a postmodernist collage of cinéma vérité-style filming of Li’s interactions with his family, direct cinema-style filming of civic incidents, such as three men holding down a woman as her store is shut down, self-reflexive confessions, scripted voice-over narration, computerized special effects, experimental mise-en-scene, dream sequences, dialectical editing, and so on. (more…)