Posts Tagged ‘du haibin’

The Dual Lens of Independent Media: Report From Reel China #4

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Mouthpiece (dir. Guo Xizhi)

This week we are spotlighting the Reel China Documentary Biennial, which held its Fifth edition last October with a showcase of nine recent documentaries produced by independent filmmakers in China. To commemorate the event, we are posting a handful of reports by attendees of the festival.

By Christopher Campbell

Guo Xizhi’s Mouthpiece is part of the recent “vérité” tradition in Chinese documentary that continues to be partly inspired by the work of American filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, known for his faux-objective “fly-on-the-wall” approach to his subject matter. However, the film’s major departure from the conventions of that detached, voyeuristic style with its seemingly invisible camera –and this appears to be true for many other observational documentaries in China right now – is in the way it includes so much acknowledgement of the camera and cameraman, breaking the “fourth wall” of what would otherwise be a strictly empirical perspective.

This actually benefits Mouthpiece thematically with regards to the documentary’s presentation of the confused and complicated concepts of the media. Constantly Guo’s camera is mistaken for or presumed to be part of or representing the news crew(s) he is documenting (they appear to employ the same kind of small DV cameras presumably used by Guo). But perhaps this is not so strange? What, after all, separates the artist’s lens from that of the television journalist’s? Very little, aesthetically. Yet, for a medium and movement that extends from and is able to work outside of the state-run propaganda machine, and which therefore tends to be thought of as a greater outlet for the independent voice, the documentary comes across as the true mouthpiece of the title.

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Lives, Feelings, and Faith: Report From Reel China #3

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Disorder (dir. Huang Weikai)

This week we are spotlighting the Reel China Documentary Biennial, which held its Fifth edition last October with a showcase of nine recent documentaries produced by independent filmmakers in China. To commemorate the event, we are posting a handful of reports by attendees of the festival.

By Mirela David

Three documentaries made an impression on me at the 5th Reel China Documentary Biennial: Du Haibin’s 1428, Ji Dan’s Spiral Staircase of Harbin and Huang Weikai’s Disorder. I will compare the three movies, taking into consideration the following aspects: how they approach everyday life, public/private spheres, reality, censorship, themes and genre.

Du Haibin’s 1428 explores the quotidian hardships of the survivors of the Sichuan earthquake: from living in ruins, trying to cook with meager means, and waiting in line to get food from the government, to discussions dealing with compensation and living in temporary housing. Ji Dan’s Spiral Staircase of Harbin examines the inner struggles of two families, surrounding their children and their personal dramas. Scenes of everyday life abound in this documentary too: house chores, cooking, eating, going to the marketplace, bargaining, worrying over money. Huang Weikai’s Disorder, on the other hand, is not so much concerned with elements of everyday life as he is with unexpected, out of ordinary events that can take place, such as the malfunctioning of a hydrant that inundates an intersection, or the various naked people on a bridge interrupting traffic.

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Accessing the Everyday: Report From Reel China #2

Monday, December 13th, 2010

1428 (dir. Du Haibin)

This week we are spotlighting the Reel China Documentary Biennial, which held its Fifth edition last October with a showcase of nine recent documentaries produced by independent filmmakers in China. To commemorate the event, we are posting a handful of reports by attendees of the festival. Be sure to read the first report previously published, “Absurdity, Art and Life on Tape” by Isabella Tianzi Cai.

Accessing the Everyday

By Carol Wang

How does one access the everyday? NYU’s Reel China Documentary Biennial offered an opportunity to consider this question through a selection of contemporary documentaries from independent Chinese filmmakers. The festival began with Du Haibin’s 1428, which documents the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in a cinéma-vérité style. Du, initially arriving on the scene in Beichuan ten days after the quake, captures the images and narratives of a region reduced to rubble. A woman talks about her lost children while doing laundry, a family searches through an empty but intact dormitory for a missing son, and men duck under a crane to grab steel rods from a building site. A young unkempt man, wearing just an ill-fitting winter army coat, ambles across the frame and gazes intently into the camera with a vacant look. There is a considerable amount of news footage available from the days and weeks immediately following the earthquake; much of it is urgent, fast-paced, and sensationalistic. 1428 offers something more understated: a slower tempo, a measure of patience which seems to demonstrate the filmmaker’s concern for his subjects. Despite the abnormalities that define the lives of these individuals, there is very little drama. Real time, when transposed onto the screen, sometimes appears excruciatingly slow.

Du returns six months later to continue filming. It’s winter now, but many are still living in makeshift tent shelters, and continue to rely on government handouts to meet their daily needs. Some, though, have attempted to make their own living – the butcher trucks slabs of meat to the lot where government distributions take place, and teenagers are hawking DVDs and photos of the Beichuan disaster zone to tourists. Du plays an unexpected role here: In response to a question from a tourist, “Is the DVD okay?,” the vendor responds, “Of course, this is the Disaster Zone. If it’s no good, you can bring it back. Look, the media is documenting this” [paraphrased] – and the vendor gestures at Du’s camera, the implication being that the camera is somehow representative of officialdom. Viewers are also implicated, because we too are watching a DVD about the disaster zone.

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Pictures from the U.S. Tour of Du Haibin and 1428

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Du Haibin speaks at the YMCA Chinatown in San Francisco, event co-sponsored by the S.F. Asia Society

The two-week tour of Du Haibin and 1428 across the U.S. has finally concluded. We were able to collect a few photos along the way. We extend our deepest gratitude to all of the venues and sponsors that played host to Du Haibin and his award-winning film. Special thanks to New York University and Reel China for sponsoring Du Haibin’s first-ever visit to the U.S., which made all of his screenings and appearances possible.

Visit our events page for information on upcoming screenings.

dGenerate is already making arrangements for Chinese screenings and director appearances for the winter and spring. If you are interested in organizing an event, please contact us.

More photos from the tour after the break.

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Final Week of Du Haibin 1428 Tour: Harvard, Yale, Chicago and SoCal!

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Du Haibin, director of 1428

Award-winning filmmaker Du Haibin continues his first ever visit to the U.S. this week. This past week saw screenings of his films at or near capacity at Stanford University, the San Francisco Chinatown YMCA (sponsored by the SF Asia Society), Reel China at NYU (main sponsors of Du Haibin’s trip), the Maysles Institute, and UnionDocs. Many thanks to all of our partners and sponsors for their work in organizing this tour.

The tour continues in the Northeast, Chicago and Southern California. Details below:

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 19th

7:00pm-9:00pm
Harvard Film Archive
Emergent Visions Series
B04, Carpenter Center
24 Quincy Street
Cambridge MA 02138
Free and open to public
The screening will be followed by Q&A. Discussants include Eugene Wang, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art; Jie Li, Harvard College Fellow; and Ying Qian, PhD candidate at Harvard EALC.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20th
7:00 PM
Yale University
Auditorium at Whitney Humanities Center
53 Wall Street
New Haven, CT
Director Du Haibin to attend

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 21st
University of Chicago
5:30pm-7:30pm Screening
7:30pm-8:30pm Discussion and Q&A
Classics 21

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22nd
California Institute of the Arts
Film Today Class
Bijou Auditorium
Presentation by Thom Andersen and Bérénice Reynaud
24700 McBean Parkway Valencia CA 91355
(661)255.1050
Director Du Haibin to attend

Rice University
Room 301, Sewell Hall
6100 Main St.
Houston, TX 77005

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 23rd
University of California, Santa Barbara
UCSB Multicultural Center
University Center room 1504
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-6050
(805) 893-8411
http://mcc.sa.ucsb.edu/ContactUs.aspx
Director Du Haibin to attend

1428 Reviewed – Meet Director Du Haibin at Stanford, San Francisco and NYC This Week!

Monday, October 11th, 2010

1428 (dir. Du Haibin)

France Pepper gives Du Haibin’s 1428 a strong review for the Asian Educational Media Service:

Du’s down-to-earth lens leaves you practically feeling the dust of the earthquake in your lungs. He portrays the reality of daily life as early as ten days after the earthquake where people are salvaging pieces of metal with their bare hands from collapsed buildings and selling them to buy food….

This documentary is especially informative when studying contemporary Chinese society. We see, for example, how the government still plays a major role in shaping public attitude towards the communist party. At the same time, it takes a close-up look at the lives of ordinary people. This two-tiered perspective is emblematic of how many aspects of Chinese society play out in reality, not just during the aftermath of an earthquake, but in everyday life.

1428 continues its three week tour of the US, with director Du Haibin appearing at select locations. Special thanks to New York University and Reel China for sponsoring Du’s visit.

Here is this week’s schedule:

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12th
Stanford University, California
Pigott Hall
Main Quad, Building 260, Room 113
Director Du Haibin to attend
http://events.stanford.edu/events/247/24793/

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 13th
SF Asia Society
Chinatown YMCA
855 Sacramento St.
San Francisco CA 94108
(415) 576-9622
http://www.ymcasf.org/chinatown/

FRIDAY-SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15
Cinema Studies Screening Room
721 Broadway, 6th floor
New York University, New York
Director Du Haibin to attend

This screening opens “Reel China, 5th Documentary Biennial at NYU”
Fri-Sunday: Oct 15-18
NYU Center for Religion and Media/Cinema Studies
http://crm.as.nyu.edu/object/crm.events.screenings

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16th
Maysles Cinema
343 Lenox Ave
Ground Fl., New York, NY 10027
(212) 582-6050
http://www.mayslesinstitute.org/cinema/calendar.html
Co-sponsored by Weatherhead East Asian Institute: http://www.columbia.edu/weai/

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 17th
*screening Umbrella*
Union Docs
322 Union Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11206
(718) 395-7902

http://www.uniondocs.org/

Master Class/Workshop led by Kevin Lee to follow
Director Du Haibin to attend

The tour continues next week at Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. See the full tour schedule: http://dgeneratefilms.com/events/1428-tours-the-u-s-in-october/

In One Week, Du Haibin and 1428 to visit Stanford, SF and NYC!

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Du Haibin, winner of Venice Film Festival Best Documentary Award for 1428

Your chance to meet the celebrated director Du Haibin is getting close! Du Haibin will be on hand at select engagements to present his film 1428, winner of the 2009 Venice International Film Festival’s Best Documentary Prize. A haunting look at a real human tragedy that devastated the lives of millions, 1428 chronicles the days following one of history’s worst earthquakes.

Here’s a list of next week’s events:

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12th
Stanford University, California
Pigott Hall
Main Quad, Building 260, Room 113
Director Du Haibin to attend
http://events.stanford.edu/events/247/24793/

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 13th
SF Asia Society
Chinatown YMCA
855 Sacramento St.
San Francisco CA 94108
(415) 576-9622
http://www.ymcasf.org/chinatown/

FRIDAY-SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15
Cinema Studies Screening Room
721 Broadway, 6th floor
New York University, New York
Director Du Haibin to attend

This screening opens “Reel China, 5th Documentary Biennial at NYU”
Fri-Sunday: Oct 15-18
NYU Center for Religion and Media/Cinema Studies
http://crm.as.nyu.edu/object/crm.events.screenings

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16th
Maysles Cinema
343 Lenox Ave
Ground Fl., New York, NY 10027
(212) 582-6050
http://www.mayslesinstitute.org/cinema/calendar.html
Co-sponsored by Weatherhead East Asian Institute: http://www.columbia.edu/weai/

Visit the 1428 event page (http://dgeneratefilms.com/events/1428-tours-the-u-s-in-october/) for a full list of events.

Will we see you? RSVP attending on our Facebook event page.

Kevin Lee Discusses 1428 on Illinois Public Media – Screening and talk tomorrow at U. Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Monday, October 4th, 2010

1428 (dir. Du Haibin)

Tuesday October 5, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will host two events showcasing China’s independent film scene. At 3:30, Kevin Lee, dGenerate’s VP of Programming and Education, will present “Chinese Cinema From the Fifth Generation to the d-Generation” At 7:30, there will be a screening of 1428, Du Haibin’s acclaimed documentary about the the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. Both events will be held at Spurlock Museum, Knight Auditorium. 600 S. Gregory Street, Urbana, IL. Sponsored by the Asian Educational Media Service. Details at the AEMS website and at our event page.

Illinois Public Media interviewed Kevin Lee, about the 1428 and Chinese independent cinema. The full interview can be heard at Illinois Public Media’s website. Here is an excerpt:

A wave of filmmakers from the mid-’90s onward have taken up the mission of showing China in an accurate, realistic and questioning light, showing how social policies affect people on a day to day basis. So I’ll be giving some examples of the best achievements of these types of films. And then we’ll be showing 1428, which is a wonderful documentary that exemplifies so much of what is unique and important about these types of films.

The screening of 1428 is part of a nationwide tour of 1428, featuring director Du Haibin. Details on the tour can be found here.

Shelly on Film: Tremors and Traumas: Notes on Three Chinese Earthquake Movies

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

By Shelly Kraicer

Buried (dir. Wang Libo)

It’s been earthquake movie season in China ever since the terrible Wenchuan earthquake that struck Sichuan province on May 12th 2008. I’ve seen fourteen of these films since then — documentaries, features, and shorts, including titles like May Day, Don’t Cry Mom, Who Killed Our Children, and Quake de Love — and I’ve by no means done a systematic search. This doesn’t include the films that mention the earthquake in passing: the number would then increase three- or four-fold.

What makes this subject so essential for Chinese filmmakers to grapple with? The Sichuan earthquake is a disaster seared into the consciousness of most people living in China, where national mass media gave saturation coverage to the earthquake and its aftermath. The subject naturally lends itself both to propaganda-style tales of heroic rescure and moral uplift, and equally to outsider critiques of government policies that made the destruction worse. It seems that there is an earthquake for every political colouring, and every possible calibration of mass media coverage (and exploitation).

I’d like to look a bit more closely at a couple of films from what we might call opposite ends of the spectrum, and one right in the middle. On one end is Wang Libo’s Buried (Yanmai), an independent documentary from 2009. Situated at the other end of is Feng Xiaogang’s massive blockbuster Aftershock (Tangshan da dizhen, 2010), the most popular Chinese film in history, measured by the box office. And right in the middle is 1428, Du Haibin’s documentary from 2009.

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1428 tours the U.S. in October

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

1428 (dir. Du Haibin)

Following its highly successful premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Du Haibin’s acclaimed documentary 1428 will be screening in October at select US engagements. Director Du Haibin will appear at several of these events.

Information on the screenings and can be found on the 1428 tour schedule page. Check back on this page regularly for updated information.

Contact us to book a screening of this film at your festival, museum, or school.