Posts Tagged ‘Film Festivals’

This Week’s Events: 1428 and Fortune Teller in San Francisco, Oxhide II and Disorder in Pomona, and More

Monday, April 11th, 2011


Fortune Teller

Fortune Teller

This week, Chinese films show in Pomona, San Francisco, and Ithaca. Director Liu Jiayin will make a special appearance at a screening of “Oxhide II” at Pomona College, and Karin Chien, president and founder of dGenerate Films, will introduce “Disorder” at the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.

Oxhide II at Pomona College
Director Liu Jiayin in attendance

Part of the series “Between Disorder and Unexpected Pleasures: Tales from the New Chinese Cinema”

Monday April 11th at 7:30 PM

Rose Hills Theatres- Pomona College
170 E Sixth Street
Claremont, CA

Oxhide II is “A masterpiece… inventive, quietly virtuosic.” (Bordwell, Observations on Film Art). Building on the stunning vision of OXHIDE (voted one of the best Chinese films of the 2000s), writer-director Liu Jiayin once again casts herself and her parents in scripted versions of their life in a tiny Beijing apartment. The screening is free.

1428 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Screening as part of the Series: Fearless: Chinese Independent Documentaries

Thursday, April 14th at 7:30 PM

701 Mission Street
San Francisco, California, 94103

1428 premiered in the U.S. in the 2010 Documentary Fortnight Festival at MoMA, won the Best Documentary Award at the 2009 Venice International Film Festival, and won Los Angeles Film Festival’s “2010 Best of the Fest”. The film observes the aftermath of the Great Sichuan Earthquake that took place on May 12, 2008, and left 70,000 dead and 375,000 injured. Tickets for the screening are $7 for general admission and $5 for seniors, students, and teachers. Gallery admission is included in ticket price. Tickets can be purchased online here.

Information on more events in Pomona, Ithaca, and San Francisco after the break. (more…)

Oxhide director Liu Jiayin in Person! Shelly Kraicer Programs Cinema Pacific Film Festival, April 6-10

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Oxhide II (photo courtesy of Fanhall Films)

From the Cinema Pacific Site:

CINEMA PACIFIC is an annual film festival based at the University of Oregon in Eugene that is devoted to discovering and fostering the creativity of international films and new media from Pacific-bordering countries, including the U.S. Through onsite and online presentations, the festival connects stimulating artists and ideas with a diverse public, furthering our understanding of world cultures and contemporary issues.

Cinema Pacific’s first Festival Fellow, Shelly Kraicer, will be our guide through the current independent film scene in China. Kraicer is a Beijing-based film critic who publishes widely about Chinese film and is also a programmer of East Asian films for the Vancouver Film Festival.

Read more about Chinese Independent Cinema at the Festival site.

The series features four of dGenerate’s films: 1428 by Du Haibin, Disorder by Huang Weikai and Oxhide and Oxhide II by Liu Jiayin. Liu Jiayin will present both films in person.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased here.

Eugene, Oregon (Map) is located 110 miles south of Portland, Oregon. Air service to Eugene’s Mahlon Sweet Field (code EUG) is available through Horizon Air, Delta Connection/Sky West, United, and Allegiant Air. Greyhound and AMTRAK both provide ground transportation options.

A full schedule of the film festival appears after the break.


Shelly on Film: The Use and Abuse of Chinese Cinema, Part Two

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

By Shelly Kraicer

This is the conclusion of Shelly Kraicer’s essay “The Use and Abuse of Chinese Cinema (in the West).” Click here for the introduction and first half of the essay.


Oxhide 2 (dir. Liu Jiayin)

4. Exemplary Asian independent art cinema. This misreading has something in common with Number 1 (“Exotic, colorful diversion”) , but in a more rarified, sophisticated form. It also contradicts (but exists in a weird sort of symbiosis with) Number 5 below. There is supposed to be something essentially “Asian” (meaning usually East Asian) about the predominant mode of contemporary art cinema now celebrated in festivals worldwide. Films that convey China’s backwardness (see Number 6 below) often employ a Andre Bazin-influenced mise en scène that is post-realist in its effect. Long takes, a demandingly slow pace, opaque storytelling, a distant motionless camera, inexpressive, non-professional actors, lots and lots of visual and narrative blankness, emptiness, stillness. Examples abound, the best recent exponents being Yang Heng (Betelnut, Sun Spots), Yang Rui (Crossing the Mountain), and in her own inimitable way, Liu Jiayin (Oxhide and Oxhide 2).

This analysis reduces an often surprising diversity of film styles into something that is assumed to spring, essentially and almost automatically, from a specific historical and cultural background, with local visual and pictorial traditions transmuted directly into their filmic correlatives. This in a sense over-simplifies and over-particularizes Chinese filmmakers who are utterly fluent (more than most of us) in the world-cinema image market (you can easily find films from everywhere, from every era, in China’s wonderfully eclectic bootleg DVD shops). By insisting on the “Chinese-ness” of these films, a special understanding, a privileged access to the films’ “essences,” may reserved for Sinological experts.

5. International art cinema master(s’) works. On the other hand, it’s just as easy to abuse Chinese cinema as some sort of proof that master directors work in a universal style recognizalbe to experts, critics, professionals, and well-trained festival audiences. In absolute contradistinction to Number 4 above, this attitude says “you don’t need to know anything about China and its specific cultural history to appreciate these films. They are great cinema, full stop”. This can be a branding exercise, like Number 2 (“Commercial entertainment”), but one for a more discriminating audience who needs to be reassured that she or he will be able to enjoy the latest Chinese masterpiece without unduly stressing over its foreignness. This is global art, i.e. It belongs to “Us,” not to its incidentally “Other” creators. Hegemony reasserts itself as art / film criticism, denaturing a film for our appropriation and viewing pleasure (with emphasis on the pleasure). This tendency can be seen in the flattering (for a forty-year-old director) inclusion of the latest Jia Zhangke film I Wish I Knew in the “Masters” section of the Toronto International Film Festival programme.


Shelly on Film: The Use and Abuse of Chinese Cinema, Part One

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Opening Ceremony of the 7th China Independent Film Festival in Nanjing (photo courtesy of CIFF)

By Shelly Kraicer

While attending the China Independent Film Festival last month in Nanjing (October 2010), I was invited to give a talk the next morning at the International Youth Art Film Summit Forum, a symposium for young directors organized by the Festival and Nanjing University. I couldn’t really decline, especially since I was benefiting from the CIFF’s generous hospitality and its wonderful programming. The problem: “forums” like these in the Chinese film festival context are rather more like formal ceremonies, featuring a series of presiding officials who drone out banal speeches welcoming the scholars and celebrating young Chinese directors’ unbridled creativity.

Various foreign guests are typically invited to give what (is hoped) are equally generic talks outlining their respective institutions and their wholesome and uncomplicated eagerness to cooperate with China, Chinese directors, and Chinese cinema institutions. I was advised to do likewise. I came up with something that I hoped might interest or at least not bore some of these young filmmakers who were supposed to be in the audience. My talk was called “The Use and Abuse of Chinese Cinema (in the West)”. Since it was to be an eight minute speech (including translation, I think I went a bit over), I boiled it down to a list of seven abuses.

What follows below is a recreation from memory of the speech I gave, somewhat expanded from the original version. I’ve also added various clarifications (and complications), and the examples not included in the speech itself (as I was advised not to name specific films in front of officials). I’ve set off these extra sections by italicizing them, so what I hope results is something like a text that alternates between more formal discourse and a parallel informal stream of commentary that supplements, qualifies and even challenges my main argument.


I start with a question: why do western film festivals need Chinese cinema? Films from the People’s Republic of China are eagerly sought after by festivals around the world, enjoy a generous portion of festivals’ programming slots, and receive a substantial share of prestigious competition prizes. This doesn’t happen by accident. The international festival system does not privilege films on the basis of “excellence” alone. Complex questions of power, commercial viability, and national self-representation come into play. So, phrased another way, the question becomes: What functions — political, commercial, and cultural — does Chinese cinema serve in the western festival and distribution system? How are these films used, what interests does programming them serve?


Finding Ways to Fit: Mainland Chinese films at Toronto and Vancouver

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

1428 (dir. Du Haibin)

1428 (dir. Du Haibin)

Part One: Toronto International Film Festival (September 10-19, 2009)

One looks to comprehensive film festivals, such as the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), for an overview of contemporary cinema that offers both breadth and depth. TIFF’s expansiveness, for example, allows one to make some judgments about the relative place of particular kinds of film in the world right now. I would like to try something of the sort with Mainland Chinese cinema in the context of TIFF, in particular how several new films might be situated in the world-cinematic scene.

Although Jia Zhangke seems in the process of retooling his cinema to head in new directions (though his public reaction, uncomfortably aligned with the Chinese government’s, to the Melbourne Film Festival Affair gives one pause), Jia-ist cinema, through its profound effect on most younger independent Chinese directors, seems lately more restrictive than liberating in its influence. Film language in “mainstream” indie Chinese films (both docs and features) seems to have temporarily congealed into something like formulaic liturgies: fetishization of the long take, the distant camera, the objective tone, the unedited minutiae of daily life.

At the same time, commercial Chinese film has adopted its own pathologies, giving us a series of big budget bloated historical epics cautiously tucked away, far from the sensitivities of the Film Bureau, into genres that are safely protected from any possible overt contemporary relevance. Several of these latter works found their way into TIFF, which has frequently, in the past ten years, extended a generous welcome to foreign fare that might attract the attentions of North American distribution. Since sword-wielding costumed Chinese actors sold in the past (thanks, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and your progeny), they have gained a marketable sheen that TIFF is one of the key agents in promoting.