Posts Tagged ‘dong’

Full Translation of Jia Zhangke’s Essay on Sixth Generation Cinema Now Available

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Film director Jia Zhangke

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

Back in August, we published a summary and partial translation of Jia Zhangke’s essay reflecting on the Sixth Generation of Chinese filmmakers, “I Don’t Believe That You Can Predict Our Ending (Wo bu xiang xin ni neng cai dao wo men jie ju).” We have now translated the entire article, which can be found below. Thanks to Jia Zhangke and Zhu Wen for providing us with the full text. English translation by Isabella Tianzi Cai.

Jia first delivered the essay on July 25 at the Beijing premiere of Sixth Generation director Wang Xiaoshuai‘s new feature Chongqing Blues. An unsubtitled video of Jia’s address can be found on Youku.com. An abridged version of his remarks, titled “I Don’t Believe That You Can Predict Our Ending (Wo bu xiang xin ni neng cai dao wo men jie ju)” had been published a week earlier in the Chinese newspaper The Southern Weekly.

Speaking of “the Sixth Generation”: I Don’t Believe That You Can Predict Our Ending

By Jia Zhangke

I am not sure how one would define “the Sixth Generation.” In terms of age, I am seven years younger than Zhang Yuan, who directed Mama, and I am half a year older than Lu Chuan, who is believed to belong to “the Seventh Generation.” I made Xiao Wu when I was 28. From 1998 onwards people have thought of me as from “the Sixth Generation.”

All along I have believed that there is no difference between desperately asserting oneself as belonging to a generation and desperately denying that fact. The reason that a film director does not want to categorize him or herself is either because that he or she wants to emphasize his or her uniqueness or that he or she wants to avoid having anything to do with the negative impressions of his or her generation. For example, whenever we speak of “the Sixth Generation,” one of the first things that come to our mind is that they have notoriously bad box office returns. For me, this is fine. If people want to think of me as such, then so be it.

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The Chinese Artist’s Life, Then and Now: Wu Wenguang’s Bumming in Beijing and Jia Zhangke’s Dong

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Dong (dir. Jia Zhangke)

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

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

Among the remarkable films of Jia Zhangke, Dong (2006) is perhaps a less well-known entry. In this hour-long documentary, Jia follows renowned avant-garde realist painter Liu Xiaodong as he works on his famously large canvas works, capturing demolition workers on China’s Three Gorges Dam and sex workers languishing in the urban squalor of Bangkok, Thailand. Jia allows the camera to go in and out of Liu’s life fluidly, framing the artist’s presence within his surroundings, highlighting the relationship the artist has within a given social environment.

Dong is unique among Chinese independent films in how it demystifies the creative process and explores the artist’s role in society. At the same time, it can’t help but evoke another important documentary about artists in China, one that is credited for launching the New Documentary Cinema (aka the New Documentary Movement) of the 1990s. That film is Wu Wenguang’s Bumming in Beijing: The Last Dreamers (1990).

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Jia Zhangke and China’s Art World: Announcing Dong Week at dGenerate

Monday, November 8th, 2010

This week the dGenerate blog is spotlighting Jia Zhangke’s rare and underappreciated film Dong, which is one of the newest additions to the dGenerate Films catalog. To commemorate the film’s availability, this week we are posting articles related to Jia as well as on art and artists in China, the central theme of this film.

Additionally, readers are welcome to send in links to their favorite or most relevant articles on both art in China and Jia Zhangke. Please share your links in the comments section.

In Dong, China’s greatest living filmmaker Jia Zhangke (Platform, The World) travels with acclaimed painter Liu Xiaodong from China to Thailand as they meet everyday workers in the throes of social turmoil. Read a full description of the film from our catalog.

Here’s what Shelly Kraicer had to say about Dong in Cinema-scope, while also discussing Dong’s companion piece, Still Life:

As Jia maps it, cinema does not divide neatly into fiction and documentary.Dong creates a subjective world, as much inside the mind of the artist Liu as outside in objective space. Still Life digs deep to reveal an underlying reality, mobilizing sophisticated formal strategies to create images of truth. These same strategies demand – or, rather, construct, during the process of watching – viewers who are ready to watch, absorb, and feel this vision. It is a vision of a man-made hell, of the monumental and limitless destruction left behind by a society rushing to tear up its foundations and gut its history. And it is a vision of embodied resistance – an individual, physical resilience that can spark an impossible, miraculous, but tangible hope in a world that seems to offer none.

Watch the trailer for Dong:

Jia Zhangke’s New Film Seeks a Wider Audience in China

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

by Isabella Tianzi Cai

In an article for the American Free Press, D’Arcy Doran recaps some of Jia Zhangke‘s latest accolades: he received this year’s life achievement award at the Locarno Film Festival; the Museum of Modern Art in New York City also held a retrospective on him in March this year. But luckier than other contemporary arthouse Chinese directors, several of whom have also been issued bans for making films, Jia is having his documentary I Wish I Knew screened at the World Expo in Shanghai, where an estimated number of 200,000 visitors will have seen the film by the end of October.

In terms of content, I Wish I Knew resonates with the rest of Jia’s oeuvre. As Doran puts it, this documentary “tackles a theme that is present in much of Jia’s work — global forces turning individuals’ lives upside down.” But in Jia’s own words, the film “touches many sensitive issues.” Jia thinks that open acknowledgment and expression of these sensitive issues, in this case through the wide reception of the film, ought to help Chinese people forge “a common sense of Chinese society.”

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