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.