Posts Tagged ‘i wish i knew’

MoMA Documentary Fortnight Opens This Week, Featuring Four New Titles from dGenerate

Monday, February 14th, 2011

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

Karamay (dir. Xu Xin)

The 10th Annual Documentary Fortnight Festival of the Museum of Modern Art in New York runs from Wednesday February 16 to 28, 2011, showcasing 20 new outstanding international non-fiction films and videos. Four contemporary Chinese documentaries distributed by dGenerate Films will screen at the festival: Xu Xin’s Karamay (2010), Huang Weikai’s Disorder (2009), Xu Tong’s Fortune Teller (2010), and Li Ning’s Tape (2010). In addition, I Wish I Knew (2010), the latest film by Jia Zhangke (whose featurette Dong is distributed by dGenerate), will also screen.

Information about the five films after the break. Tickets can be purchased at the MoMA box office as early as the day before screening.

Berenice Reynaud Spotlights Six Chinese Films at Vancouver

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Thomas Mao (dir. Zhu Wen)

Judging by the extensive coverage of Chinese films at the Vancouver International Film Festival, one can conclude that it is one of the key venues to see the best of Chinese cinema outside of China. We’ve already pointed to reports by VIFF Dragons and Tigers programmer Shelly Kraicer, Film Comment’s Robert Koehler and MUBI’s Daniel Kasman. In the latest issue of Senses of Cinema, Berenice Reynaud offers an in-depth take on half a dozen Chinese-language titles, among many other films reviewed from the festival. Some excerpts:

On Li Hongqi’s Winter Vacation: “Li alternates wordless, rigorously composed scenes with instances of sparse dialogue, a Beckett-like hollowing of everyday platitudes.”

On Zhu Wen’s Thomas Mao: “Another scintillating example of neo-Chinese wit.”

On Jia Zhangke’s I Wish I Knew: “Old Shanghai is disappearing in the wake of unprecedented urban destruction (a lot of it caused by the World Expo itself); I Wish I Knew captures it as a dream, a memory, a flow of cinematic images that are as fluid and immaterial as the two rivers that run through it.”

On Hao Jie’s Single Man: “Visceral, off-colour, generous to a fault, Hao Jie’s Guanggun (Single Man) is one of the most exciting filmmaking debuts in years.”

On Zhao Dayong’s The High Life: “Zhao plays with our narrative expectations, blurring the lines between fiction and self-representation.”

On Xu Tong’s Fortune Teller: “Following Li and Little Pearl on the back alleys and dusty roads of rural China, Xu – whose first film, Mai shou (Wheat Harvest, 2008) was the controversial portrait of a lower class prostitute leading a double life – casts an unsentimental gaze at these humble lives that the “new and harmonious society” would like to keep under the rug.”

Reynaud concludes of the latter three films:

During the Mao years, conformity was the norm. Now the powers-that-be want to transform the citizens into quiet, obedient consumers. Films such as Single Man, High Life or Fortune Teller outline the gap between these grand plans and the way people live, point out the heightened contradictions of modernisation. Whether they resort to fictionalisation or experimental techniques, they manage to capture something of this reality that Lacan perceived as left over between the symbolic (the laws) and the imaginary (the utopias of socialism or free market).

Read Reynaud’s complete festival report at Senses of Cinema.

Jia Zhangke’s I Wish I Knew and Useful Jia Links

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Zhao Tao in I Wish I Knew (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.

At RealTime Arts, Dan Edwards reviews Jia Zhangke’s new film I Wish I Knew. Some highlights:

There is a spectre haunting Jia Zhangke’s recent work: the spectre of time, of memories being displaced and history erased… But whereas Still Life and 24 City implicitly asked where a nation’s emotional, ethical and philosophical centre lies when so much of its heritage has been destroyed, Jia’s new documentary I Wish I Knew attempts to answer this question by reclaiming history from the ground up…

The contested nature of Shanghai’s past is highlighted not only through personal remembrances from various political and historical perspectives, but also through the filmmaker’s reflection on the ways in which the city’s life has been represented on screen. Shanghai has long been the centre of China’s film industry, and even when Hong Kong dominated Asian cinema, its industry was nurtured by Shanghai refugees who had fled the mainland in the wake of the Communist takeover…

I Wish I Knew resists simply positing an alternative narrative to what appears in mainland Chinese history books, or validating the version of Shanghai’s past told in Taiwan. Instead, the film redefines the very notion of history in China by refusing all singular, linear accounts of Shanghai’s development. For millennia succeeding dynasties rewrote or simply wiped clean what went before in China in order to shore up their own power, a tradition the Communists have pursued with violent determination. In contrast, Jia’s film gives voice to the vanquished as well as the victors, marking out history as an ever-evolving, always disputed discourse comprising a multitude of competing voices.

Read the full review. Dan Edwards’ personal blog devoted to Chinese cinema is Screening China.

There are many other reviews and resources related to I Wish I Knew and Jia Zhangke online. Here are just a few:


Shelly on Film: Deeper Into Dragons and Tigers

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

By Shelly Kraicer

Rumination (dir. Xu Ruotao)

The 2010 Vancouver International Film Festival (September 30 to October 15) has just concluded. This was my fourth year programming Chinese language films for VIFF’s Dragons and Tigers section for East Asian cinema; this year’s edition featured 43 features and 21 shorts, co-curated by Tony Rayns and myself. I selected 19 features and three shorts: 12 from China, 4 from Hong Kong, 3 from Taiwan, 2 from Malaysia, and one from Singapore. Details of the films from the People’s Republic of China, including comments derived from my catalogue notes for VIFF, can be found below.

Within the D&T section, the Dragons and Tigers Award for Young Cinema, programmed by Tony Rayns, featured 8 films by young, as yet “undiscovered” directors. The jury, comprised of Jia Zhangke, Bong Joon-ho, and Denis Côté, awarded its prize to the Japanese film Good Morning World!, directed by Hirohara Satoru. Two special mentions were awarded: one to the Chinese film Rumination (Fanchu), by Xu Ruotao, and one to Phan Dang Di’s Vietnamese film Don’t Be Afraid B!

As usual, I chose more films from China than from any other territory. I try each year to balance at least two goals in my programming: I want to give VIFF audiences a sense of the increasing variety of Chinese language filmmaking, both in the independent sector, and in commercial genres. At the same time, it has always been VIFF’s policy and my own personal preference to highlight the work of independent young filmmakers working outside of the system of official censorship and distribution (independent tizhiwai films). Indie documentary filmmaking continues to be particularly strong in China, and I could only choose a few examples: it would have been easy to devote the bulk of my 9 feature length film slots to Chinese independent films this year.


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.”