Posts Tagged ‘independent film’

Global Times Profiles Indie Film Venue in China and Films by Huang Weikai

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

In the Global Times, Lance Crayon profiles the Indie Film Forum launched by the Ullens Center for Contempoary Art in Beijing, one of the rare venues for screening Chinese independent films in China. Most recently the UCCA hosted director Huang Weikai as he screened and discussed his work.


The outpouring of Chinese documentaries over the past decade has inspired and impressed audiences all over the world. However, the problem for audiences on the Chinese mainland is that accessing such films isn’t always easy.


Shelly on Film: Fall Festival Report, Part Two: Under Safe Cover, a Fierce Debate

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

By Shelly Kraicer

Shu Haolun's "No. 89 Shimen Road" won the top prize at CIFF, but wasn't shown on Awards Night.

The Nanjing-based China Independent Film Festival (28 October-1 November 2011), unlike the Beijing Independent Film Festival described previously, benefited from a substantial degree of official and semi-official “cover”. Unlike BIFF, there is a certain amount of practical compromise with official bodies and officially approved cinema: purity isn’t such an issue. Co-sponsors include the Nanjing University School of Journalism and Communication, The Communication University of China (Nanjing) and the RCM Museum of Modern Art. The second day of CIFF includes a forum attended by local propaganda department officials. A sidebar of the festival (nicknamed the “Longbiao Section” for the dragon-headed insignia that appears at the beginning of all officially approved film prints in China) included screenings in a luxurious commercial cinema of several films that that are strictly speaking non-independent (i.e. censor-approved) but are made in a spirit of independence. These films would not appear at BIFF, for example, but might show later in official venues like Beijing’s Broadway Cinematheque MOMA, where approved “arthouse cinema” (i.e. non-commercial) finds a refuge in Beijing.


Zhao Liang profiled in New York Times

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

In a lengthy New York Times feature, Ed Wong profiles Zhao Liang, director of two of the most fearlessly independent social documentaries to come from China, Crime and Punishment and Petition. Zhao has recently transitioned to work with the Chinese State Film Bureau to produce Together, an “official” documentary on Chinese HIV victims. As a result, he has drawn the criticism of former supporters and collaborators, including outspoken artist-activist Ai Weiwei, whose detention by the Chinese government this year drew international attention. The article summarizes its central concern in one paragraph:

Mr. Zhao’s evolution from a filmmaker hounded by the government to one whom it celebrates offers a window into hard choices that face directors as they try to carve out space for self-expression in China’s authoritarian system. Like Mr. Zhao, many seek to balance their independent visions with their desires to live securely and win recognition.

Accompanying the article are two videos: one in which Zhao shares his thoughts on filmmaking in China, and another in which Ai Weiwei confronts Zhao on camera over the withdrawal of his film Petition from the 2009 Melbourne International Film Festival in order to avoid political controversy.

dGenerate Films is the distributor of Zhao’s film Crime and Punishment. It can be purchased through dGenerate or Amazon, or viewed online at Amazon or Fandor.

Sundance Institute Holds Film Forward Program in China

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

Advisors Cara Mertes and Lixin Fan listen to a filmmaker in a small group at CNEX/DFP workshops. (Photo: Meredith Lavitt)

From April 13 to 16, 2011, Sundance Institute held its Film Forward Program in China to showcase ten excellent independent films as part of its international outreach project to promote intercultural exchange. Film Forward was initiated by the Sundance Institute and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and organized in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The program coincided with the Sundance Institute – CNEX Documentary Film Workshop, in which eleven Chinese documentary project teams had the privilege to interact directly with the foreign talents and industry experts brought on by the collaboration.

CNEX is currently one of the world’s most active players in terms of bringing attention and assistance to Chinese documentary filmmaking. It is a non-governmental organization based in Beijing with staff members working in Taiwan and North America. Founded in 2006, it has grown consistently over the years and continued to help produce and promote Chinese documentary cinema internationally.

The responses to both the Film Forward Program and the workshop were incredibly enthused. Audiences and participants eagerly sought answers to their own questions about the films screened as well as about general filmmaking practices.


dGenerate President Karin Chien Profiled in The Beijinger

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
By Isabella Tianzi Cai

dGenerate Films President and Founder Karin Chien

Dan Edwards of The Beijinger profiles dGenerate Films’ President Karin Chien. The purpose of the company, as Edwards quotes Karin, was “to bring Chinese perspectives on the People’s Republic to US audiences.” There is a need for this due to language and cultural barriers between China and America. Most available films and television programs about China in the US and elsewhere tend to represent “an outsider’s view of China tailored to a western audience.” They are very different from the perspectives offered by native Chinese filmmakers.

Established in 2008, dGenerate took on a niche market of Chinese film distribution even as an economic downturn that year caused ten major US distributors to shut down. In order to distribute independent Chinese films in the US, there are problems to be overcome by the company. Karin comments on the patterns exhibited by the current reception of Chinese independent films in the US. So far, “dGenerate has found that films based on strong characters appeal most to US audiences, while film festival pedigree makes the films much easier to sell.” Moreover, as Edwards quotes Karin,

Collective Excitement: Individual Expressions: The 7th China Independent Film Festival

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

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

By Sara Beretta

The 7th China Independent Film Festival (CIFF), which ran from October 21-25, was a five-day affair packed with screenings and forums. Among the changes in this year’s event were a new curatorial team (Dong Bingfeng, Du Qingchun, Wei Xidi) and a new location, Nanjing University. Under the guidance of Zhang Xianmin (Beijing Film Academy Professor, curator, critic, filmmaker, actor, producer and dGenerate consultant), the curators worked with both the Committee (Cao Kai, Chen Yun, Li Li, Zhang Xiamin, Zhou Kai) and the Selection Team (Cai Meng, Liu Jiayin, Wang Liren, Wei Xidi, Wang Xiaolu) put together a stellar program of events and screenings.


China Independent Film Fund Announced

Thursday, October 21st, 2010
By Isabella Tianzi Cai

Zhang Xianmin, manager of the China Independent Film Fund

At the Pusan International Film Festival, Variety reports that a new fund has been set up to help the production of independent films in China.

The fund is managed by Beijing Film Academy Professor (and dGenerate consultant) Zhang Xianmin and financed by an anonymous donor. Zhang revealed the news as he was attending a Pusan festival forum on film funding. He said that a total of $5,000 to $10,000 would be awarded to two independent feature film productions and two documentary productions each year. Submissions for the inaugural funds are open until November 20.

Further details about the film fund will be disclosed during the 7th China Independent Film Festival (also organized by Zhang), which will take place in Nanjing this year from October 21 to 25.

The Slow, Steady Rise of Independent Film in China

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

by Isabella Tianzi Cai

dGenerate Films got a mention in Mitch Moxley’s article, “Now Showing – Independent Films,” at Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency’s website on August 27, 2010. The article is a report on China’s indie scene; it stresses the symbiotic relationship between China’s big-budget productions and its independent productions. According to Moxley’s interviewed subjects, which include Professor Cui Weiping from Beijing Film Academy and Programming and Marketing Manager Wu Jing from Broadway Cinematheque, when commercial cinema grows and matures, indie cinema ought to thrive too. Moxley briefs the production code that Chinese independent filmmakers face, and he names the existing distribution and exhibition channels for their films, including dGenerate.

Read the full article.

Shelly on Film: Bumping against Boundaries in Chinese Film Culture

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Thomas Mao (dir. Zhu Wen)

By Shelly Kraicer

During a recent interview with an independent Chinese journalist, I was somewhat taken aback, but also quite amused by her rather pointed question to me: “In an online discussion of an article you wrote recently, some [anonymous] commenter was skeptical that Westerners could be so interested in debating Chinese movies and ideology, when in fact it has nothing to do with them. What do you think?”

What could I think? I remember reading the original comment the journalist was referring to, and noting at the time that the implied (and oft-heard) background to this attitude was something along the lines of “outsiders [like you] are fundamentally unequipped to comment on (write about / research about / review) our Chinese films (painting / dramas / novels), so just what do you think you are doing, anyway?

At the risk of answering one cultural judgment with another, I find this display of an aggressively protective attitude to Chinese culture to be distinctly Beijing-ese. Hong Kong, Taipei and Shanghai tend to be much more relaxed about foreigners in their midst, given their cosmopolitan histories. Their urban intellectual cultures more readily admit “other” voices — foreign voices, alternative points of view — with fewer hangups than Beijing’s thriving and otherwise open intellectual culture. Beijing has long been the capital of mainland Chinese independent film and avant-garde culture. No less than half of the dGenerate Films catalog are by Beijing-based filmmakers: Jia Zhangke, Liu Jiayin, and Cui Zi’en, to name a few. And yet, despite its openness to progressive artisitic activity, Beijing has an intensely policed view of the cultural “other” and the potential role of these “others” in its cultural discourse.

(Article continues after the break.)


CinemaTalk: Peng Tao at the Beijing Apple Store

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

This is the third of three interviews produced from the “Meet the Filmmakers” series held in Feburary 2010 at the Apple Store in Sanlitun, Beijing. The series, co-presented by the Apple Store and dGenerate Films, is an ongoing series to showcase China’s newest filmmakers powered by digital technology.

Peng Tao at the Sanlitun Apple Store, Beijing

Peng Tao is the award-winning director of Little Moth (2007) and a graduate of the Art Department of Beijing Film Academy, where he received the Outstanding Short Film Award and first prize at the 1st JINZI Awards. Peng Tao’s second feature, Floating in Memory (2009), is supported by the prestigious Sundance Institute Feature Film Program and the Hubert Bals Fund, and screened in the VPRO Tiger Awards Competition at the 2009 International Film Festival Rotterdam.

The video of Peng’s interview is in three parts, with an English transcript following each video. Video of Part One is below. Click through to view both videos and the full transcript. Interview conducted by Jane Zheng. Videography by Michael Cheng. English transcription and subtitles by Yuqian Yan and Isabella Tianzi Cai.

Note: English subtitles for each video can be accessed by clicking on the CC button in the pop-up menu on the bottom right corner of the player.