Posts Tagged ‘harvard’

Harvard East Asia Society hosts 15th Annual Graduate Student Conference

Monday, October 24th, 2011

The Harvard East Asia Society (HEAS) Graduate Student Conference invites graduate students from around the world, conducting research in all disciplines, to submit abstracts for its 2012 conference, to take place February 24 – February 26. The HEAS Graduate Student Conference is an annual event which provides an interdisciplinary forum for graduate students to exchange ideas and discuss current research on East Asia. The conference allows young scholars to present their research to both their peers and to eminent scholars in East Asian Studies. All panels will be moderated by Harvard University faculty. The conference will also allow participants to meet others in their field conducting similar research and to forge new professional relationships. Submissions are invited from graduate students in all disciplines. Papers should be related to East or Inner Asia, including East Asian interactions with the wider world. For more information about the conference, including eligibility requirements, please visit

Apply by November 18 deadline for consideration.

Mao Impersonators Documentary Screening at Harvard

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

From the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies:

Par of the Emergent Visions series
Date: Friday, October 7, 2011, 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Readymade: A Documentary about Mao Impersonators

With film director Zhang Bingjian

Although Chairman Mao died 35 years ago, he lives on in the form of his impersonators. This documentary is about two ordinary middle-aged individuals who make a career out of their physical likeness to Mao. The first, a farmer from Mao’s hometown studies at the Beijing Film Academy with his family’s support and the dream of playing Mao on the big screen. The second, a housewife struggles to overcome her husband’s aversion toward her new career. Through their lives and performances, the film presents trenchant insights into the legacy of the “Great Helmsman” in today’s China.

The film screening will be followed by a discussion with Zhang Bingjian.

Born in Shanghai, Zhang Bingjian graduated from the Beijing Film Academy in 1982 and received an MFA degree from the University of South Carolina in 1993. He directed a feature film Suffocation in 2004 that starred the well-known actor Ge You and was the first Chinese psychic film to be released nationwide. It was also screened at international film festivals worldwide. Readymade is his first documentary.

The film is in Chinese with English subtitles
Free and open to the public
Cosponsored with
the CCK Foundation Inter-University Center for Sinology

Location: CGIS South, Belfer Case Study Room, S020,
1730 Cambridge Street, Harvard University

CinemaTalk: Interview with Professor Eugene Wang on Chinese Art and Film

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

By Michael Chenkin

Professor Eugene Wang

Eugene Yuejin Wang is Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art at Harvard University. We recently spoke with Professor Wang about his interests in Chinese art and Chinese film, the areas of intersection between these two fields, and his interest in painter Liu Xiaodong, who is the subject of Jia Zhangke’s documentary Dong. Dong will screen Monday 9/26 as the opening film of the 11-film series on Chinese independent film at Doc Films in Chicago. In this conversation Professor Wang reflects at length on the way Liu and other artists work in relation to the idea of nationhood, especially in regards to national disasters such as the 2008 Beichuan earthquake in Sichuan. Wang pays particular attention to Liu’s 2010 work “Getting Out of Beichuan,” which Wang considers “marks a new stage and possibly a new turning point in the contemporary Chinese art scene.”

A native of Jiangsu, China, Wang studied at Fudan University in Shanghai (B.A. 1983; M.A. 1986), and subsequently at Harvard University (A.M. 1990; Ph.D. 1997). He was the Ittleson Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in Visual Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1995-96) before joining the art history faculty at the University of Chicago in 1996. His teaching appointment at Harvard University began in 1997, and he became the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art in 2005.

He has received the Guggenheim Fellowship, Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, and postdoctoral and research grants from the Getty Foundation.

His book, Shaping the Lotus Sutra: Buddhist Visual Culture in Medieval China (2005) has received the Academic Achievement Award in memory of the late Professor Nichijin Sakamoto, Rissho University, Japan. He is the art history associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Buddhism (New York, 2004).


dGF: I understand that a lot of your past research focused on Medieval Buddhist art and visual culture. Recently you have been researching Chinese film. Where did these interests arise? In addition, is there any synergy between inquiries into Buddhist art and Chinese film?

Eugene Wang: Before I started researching medieval art, I was deeply engaged in Chinese film. I actually wrote a script and published a few essays. Film has always been one of my side interests. I’m always intrigued by how people screen disparate images together. You have a set of images. They may or may not have a relationship with one another. Somehow you string them together and you have an image flow. In cinematic terms it would be called montage. If these images are on a wall, such as in Buddhist caves and wall paintings, then you have an iconographic program. There is something very interesting about the visual logic underlying this flow of images.

Cinematalk: Interview with Ying Qian of Harvard

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

By Michael Chenkin

Ying Qian

Ying Qian is a PhD candidate in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Qian’s area of focus involves examining the evolving documentary visions in 20th century China. She is interested in the social processes and “film thinking” that have enabled and shaped the making of documentary images, and the ways in which these images have provided framings, interventions and agencies to historical change.

Recently, Qian co-organized a conference titled “Just Images: Ethics and Chinese Documentary” at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard. We spoke with Qian about the highlights of the conference as well as her ongoing research in Chinese documentary.

dGF: Could you give a brief overview of your research? What are your specific interests within the field of documentary film study?

Ying Qian: I’m writing a dissertation on the history of Chinese documentary since the Mao era. I also write about documentary practices in the Republican period in my introduction chapter. My interest in documentary cinema was initiated by encounters with contemporary independent documentary, and I used to make my own documentary films as well.

In my dissertation, I try to move the timeline further back. When talking about contemporary documentary, critics would point out that these films are very different from the official practices and especially from the documentary practices of an earlier era. New documentaries do not usually have a “Voice-of-God” commentary; they also have different approaches to conceptualize reality and deal with contingency in filmmaking. These observations are clearly true; though I think the division between the past and the present is not so binary. When one examines the documentary productions in the Mao-era seriously, one finds some important continuities despite many ruptures. I see documentary of the present as multiple responses to the end of the Mao-era.


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.


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:


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.

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

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

California Institute of the Arts
Film Today Class
Bijou Auditorium
Presentation by Thom Andersen and Bérénice Reynaud
24700 McBean Parkway Valencia CA 91355
Director Du Haibin to attend

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

University of California, Santa Barbara
UCSB Multicultural Center
University Center room 1504
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-6050
(805) 893-8411
Director Du Haibin to attend

Documentary master Zhao Liang at Minneapolis (tonight!), Boston and New York (next week!)

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Petition (dir. Zhao Liang)

In the recent Top Ten Chinese Films of the 2000s poll, one of the top-ranked documentaries was Zhao Liang’s Petition: The Court of the Complainants. A pretty impressive showing, given that the film was just released last year and has been seen by relatively few people, even in Chinese cinema circles. Tonight folks in Minneapolis will have a chance to see what some are calling the most exciting Chinese documentary since West of the Tracks.

Zhao Liang will be visiting the Walker Art Center this weekend to present his films Petition and Crime and Punishment. Then he will visit the East Cost to present his work at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University, the Harvard Film Archive, the China Institute in New York, and the Center of Religion and Media at New York University.

Information on his films and a full schedule of his programs after the break.


Chinese Indie Docs Hit Harvard and Santa Barbara

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending “Emergent Visions: Independent Documentaries from China” a special series held at Harvard University. In addition to screening eight films over three days, the University brought from China Zhu Rikun, head of Fanhall Studio and programmer of the Beijing Independent Film Festival and the China Documentary Film Festival, as well as three directors of films in the series, to present the works and engage in discussion with audiences. The series will travel this coming weekend to Santa Barbara, with Zhu and the three directors in tow.

The Harvard screenings were anchored by a panel session, chaired by Harvard professor Eileen Chow, that offered three distinct takes on the burgeoning indie documentary scene in China. Lu Xinyu of Fudan University examined what she dubs the “First Generation” of Chinese documentarians, describing their chief characteristics and principles: an emphasis on social observation executed via direct cinema practices, and a rejection of the mainstream practice of idealization in representation. Lu noted an emerging “Second Generation” of documentarians whose works reflect an increasingly subjective and self-reflexive approach.

Zhu Rikun offered his own historical account of the explosive production of Chinese docs over this decade, commenting specifically on how affluent members of Beijing’s art scene (such as Li Xianting, who funds both festivals programmed by Zhu) became invested in supporting documentaries. Zhu observed that Beijing artists and art patrons were concerned that an increasingly commercialized contemporary art scene was growing disconnected from China’s reality. They felt the need to bolster the connection between art and society, and found documentary as their ideal medium for this endeavor. Zhu also remarked on how the availability of digital video and editing equipment accelerated the documentary movement at every step, from production to distribution; and how the internet helped organize of a critically engaged audience across the country, giving rise to an independent film festival circuit that has become increasingly visible and vital over a remarkably short period.

Markus Nornes, professor of Asian Film and Video at Michigan and currently visiting scholar at Harvard, offered a provocative presentation titled “Demolition, Christianity, and the Slaughter of Animals Great and Small.” The title reflected his paper’s overall concern with thematic and formalistic conventions emerging among Chinese documentaries. At the same time Nornes acknowledged the vitality of the documentary circuit, specifically in venues like YunFest where local film projects and exhibitions have engaged their communities, reflecting the potential of these festivals to reflect the heterogeneity of China’s culture. His talk concluded with concerns over the future of the independent spirit of Chinese documentary filmmaking as the genre matures under the auspices of industrialization and professionalism.

As for the films in the program, the ones I managed to catch were uniformly outstanding, and having three of the directors present greatly enhanced the experience. Xu Xin‘s two films reflect a fascination with cultural practices in danger of extinction, whose practictioners are seemingly out of step with their times and surroundings. Torch Troupes follows a traditional Sichuan opera singer as his troupe struggles to get by, while Fangshan Church depicts a Jiangsu congregation of mostly elderly Christians. Wang Wo’s experimental documentaries Outside and Noise take the direct cinema approach to the realm of avant gardism, immersing the viewer in a non-narrative, highly sensory experience of urban China in its visual and aural splendor. Zhao Xun‘s Two Seasons, which recently premiered at YunFest, was a true crowd-pleaser, depicting the rigid, at times absurdly comic social dynamics that govern a middle school in Hubei.

The series also included Feng Yan‘s Bing Ai (sort of a feminist version of Jia Zhangke’s Still Life), Zhao Liang‘s Crime and Punishment, a remarkable documentary on police interrogation tactics, and Zhao Dayong‘s Ghost Town, a devastating three-part chronicle of an existence in utter poverty in a remote southwestern mountain town.

Kudos to J.P. Sniadecki, Ying Qian and Jie Li at Harvard for assembling an impressive program.

Emergent Visions: Independent Documentaries from China was co-sponsored by the Harvard University Asia Center, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, the Harvard East Asia Society, the department of Visual and Entertainment Studies, and the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts.