Posts Tagged ‘digital generation’

“Alternative Realities:” China’s Digital Documentary Filmmakers

Monday, April 26th, 2010

1428 (dir. Du Haibin)

In the newest issue of RealTime Arts Magazine, there is a rousing article by Dan Edwards on the significance of digital independent filmmaking in China. Here’s the opening passage:

While China’s political system remains deeply authoritarian, the country’s overwhelming size and explosive growth have opened cavernous gaps in the government’s control of culture, through which a new generation of DV-wielding documentary filmmakers has climbed.

Edwards profiles films such as Hu Jie’s In Search of Lin Zhao’s Soul, Ou Ning’s Meishi Street, and Du Haibin’s 1428 (editor: The latter two are distributed by dGenerate Films). He also interviews three notable figures in the contemporary digital filmmaking scene: producer/journalist David Bandurski (Ghost Town), artist/filmmaker Ou Ning and filmmaker/journalist Hu Jie. Here are some choice quotes from each:

Bandurski: “I’ve never heard an independent filmmaker in China ask themselves, ‘Can I do this?… Independent filmmaking is the freest avenue of expression that exists in China today.”

Ou: “Before, history only had one version – by the Chinese Communist Party… Now with digital technology history has different versions.”

Hu: “I knew very little about the history of the 1950s and 60s… While making Lin Zhao I had the sense that I was feeling around in the dark. Then I found the door of history, opened it and walked through. There I found a lot of ridiculous, cruel stories that really shocked me, and that was the motivation to go further.”

Read the complete article at RealTime Arts.

Find out more about Meishi Street, 1428, and Ghost Town.

New York Times article on the Chinese digital underground!

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

In the midst of Ghost Town-New York Film Festival madness, a little newspaper called the New York Times decided to spotlight the burgeoning independent Chinese film scene in last Sunday’s edition. Reporter Kirk Semple explores the nuanced relationship (or lack thereof) between underground filmmakers like Ghost Town‘s Zhao Dayong and The Other Half‘s Ying Liang, and the Chinese government requirement that all films be approved by the state-run Film Bureau.

It’s a great educational primer for anyone seeking to understand the political context and artistic environment within which all of dGenerate Films’ filmmakers operate. Throw in a choice quote from dGenerate Films’ president Karin Chien, and you’ve got a must-read and a nice victory for us and our filmmakers.

Read the New York Times article “Indie Filmmakers: China’s New Guerillas” here

Ghost Town: a New Chapter for Chinese Cinema at the New York Film Festival

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Ghost Town (photo courtesy of Fanhall Films)

Ghost Town (photo courtesy of Fanhall Films)

Marking a breakthrough for the Chinese digital filmmaking community, director Zhao Dayong’s Ghost Town (Fei Cheng, 2008) was selected for the 47th New York Film Festival (September 25 – October 11), as the only Chinese entry in the lineup. This low-budget documentary shot on HD has never been shown in any major festival outside China; as of this article it has yet to even appear on IMDb and All Movie Guide. Yet it joins a prestigious NYFF lineup that features new works by renowned directors such as Alain Resnais, Pedro Almodovar, Jacques Rivette, and Lars von Trier. Its inclusion in the NYFF represents a first in the festival’s program: a nod to China’s digital generation of documentary filmmakers.

According to the website of Fanhall Films, a multi-faceted indie film support organization based in Beijing, the three-hour documentary is not about phantoms, but the Lisu and Nu minority villagers in the abandoned halls of a remote former communist county seat in the southwestern province of Yunnan, China. Consisting of three chapters, “Voices,” “Recollections,” and “Innocence,” the film observes and records the mode of existence of the nameless and the forgotten, offering extraordinary insights into such topics as religious faith, relationships, juvenile deviants, generational differences, and lost history.

Dennis Lim, a member of this year’s NYFF jury and a major voice in promoting Chinese independent cinema, shared his reasons for selecting the film with dGenerate Films’ Kevin Lee: “Ghost Town is one of the most surprising and rewarding films I’ve seen all year, one of the most important films to have emerged from the booming (but still underexplored) field of Chinese independent documentaries.” Fellow jury member Scott Foundas also considered the film an exciting discovery, exclaiming: “I didn’t think there was another Jia Zhangke or Wang Bing lurking out there, but it turns out there is!”