Posts Tagged ‘jian yi’

Jian Yi’s Award-Winning Bamboo Shoots screening this week in Toronto

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Bamboo Shoots (dir. Jian Yi)

Jian Yi, whose documentary Super, Girls! was one of the first films in the dGenerate catalog, is screening his narrative debut feature Bamboo Shoots at The Projection Booth in Toronto now until Thursday September 1. Winner of Best Feature Film at the Montreal World Cinema Festival, the release has garnered substantial press. Some excerpts:

A hastily packed prophylactic is this gentle Chinese satire, about a small-town peasant trying to spare his community embarrassment: the offending condom was stuck in a box of bamboo shoots being sent as a gift to town officials… The slow, deliberate style works well for the material. – Metro

“The best thing that could happen when someone misplaces a condom (aside from pregnancy?) is this kind of serious but light, absurd but naturalistic story.” – The National Post

“A dry and surprisingly sharp satire about people finding ways to scrabble along, from the city to the country, in the bizarre hybrid state/free-market that now exists in China.” – The Toronto Sun

The small observational moments and fleeting characters can be funny in isolation, but taken as a whole the film feels soul-crushingly bleak, the mark of effective satire.” – Now Toronto

A Visit to the IFChina Original Studio with Filmmaker Jian Yi

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

By Dan Edwards

IFChina Studio founder and filmmaker Jian Yi, outside the studio on the campus of Jinggangshan University

Reprinted by permission from RealTime Arts Magazine.

Ji’an doesn’t look like the most auspicious place for a groundbreaking experiment in China’s budding civil society. The town doesn’t appear in any English language guidebooks, the local station platform is just a low-slung slab of concrete and, in early spring when i visited, a bone chilling mist hung over the town. Yet this minor chinese city is home to IFChina Original Studio, a bold attempt to generate community participation in the arts and oral history in the heart of one of China’s poorest regions.

hidden stories

“We wanted to start with oral history because this place is so special – the Chinese revolution under Mao Zedong started here,” explains Jian Yi, a gently spoken local filmmaker whose credits include the documentary Super, Girls (2007). Jian Yi founded IFChina Original Studio with his wife Eva in 2009 on the campus of Jinggangshan University. Their activities include theatre classes, video workshops and photography programs, all built on an oral history foundation.

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How American Idol Introduced Democracy and Tomboys to China

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Over at Fandor, our own Kevin Lee has a piece on Jian Yi’s Super, Girls!, coinciding with the finale of American Idol Season 10, airing tonight and tomorrow. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Super Girl (once officially known as the Mongolian Cow Yoghurt Super Girl Contest, after its brand sponsor) launched in 2004, just a couple years after Pop Idol and American Idol. Originally a local TV production, the show took advantage of a newly formed nationwide satellite network to broadcast across China, and quickly became a runaway success. By its third season the show drew over 400 million viewers, exceeding not just the total number of American Idol viewers, but the entire US population. Whether due to this alarming display of voter mobilization or the runaway popularity of a show that glorified pop idolatry, the Chinese government shut down the show after three seasons (though it has since been revived).

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Jian Yi launches IFCHINA Website Highlighting Work in Rural China

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

IFCHINA director Jian Yi distributes donated goods as part of the "Spoonful of Rice" Project (photo from IFCHINA blog: http://artisimple.wordpress.com.cn)

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

The IFCHINA Original Art Studio Participatory Documentary Center launched its official website in November 2010. The center was founded by director Jian Yi. It is said to be China’s first non-profit art and cultural organization that collects and documents the stories of ordinary Chinese. Since its inauguration in June 2009 at Jinggangshan University, it has engaged in a variety of community building projects in Ji’an, a city in Jiangxi province.

Tailored to realize its goal to establish a working model that strengthens community ties and preserves local history and culture, currently projects in five areas are being carried out with the local urban community of Ji’an and the rural population in its adjacent villages. They are documentary films, documentary photography, documentary theater, oral history, and new socialist countryside design. The IFCHINA team reach out to people from every walk of life from unemployed workers, school children, college students, migrant workers, to rural women, children, and elderly. They not only teach them for free how to operate the digital camera and the digital camcorder but also conduct interviews with the ageing population who bear witness to the founding of new China. As some of us may not know, Ji’an is one of China’s most revered revolutionary cities. Jinggang Mountain in Ji’an is the birth place of China’s Red Army.

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Changing Times for Queer Lives in China

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Lesbian wedding in China (Photo from crtv.nl)

by Isabella Tianzi Cai

In a “Letter from China” column for the New York Times on September 1, 2010, Howard W. French elaborates on China’s changing attitude towards queer culture based on his personal observations in Shanghai. Having worked and lived in Shanghai for just under a decade, French is well aware of Chinese people’s increasing psychological tolerance towards homosexuals in their midst.

French says that it is most evident in “public intimacy between women,” which he supports in the letter by recounting a few of his personal experiences, most memorably, witnessing two teenage girls kissing passionately in a Shanghai subway car, without regard for the older passengers watching them with consternation. It should be noted that this incident is without precedent; a similar event in 2008 was captured on video and created a stir when posted on the internet.

French offers his understanding of this social phenomenon:

As this society rapidly grows richer, its social fabric and mores have been changing in ways far more dramatic than even the physical landscape, and sexual choice and expression are arguably in the leading edge of this upheaval.

Although this trend, as articulated by French, is more or less inevitable, the transition from a conservative society to a liberal one is neither as easy or as fast as he makes it out to be.

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CinemaTalk: Jian Yi at the Beijing Apple Store

Monday, June 21st, 2010

This is the second 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.

Jian Yi

Jian Yi is a filmmaker from China whose work actively engages ordinary citizens in documenting their own lives. He directed the critically acclaimed films Super, Girls! and Bamboo Shoots, and co-directed the groundbreaking China Village Documentary Project, in which ordinary villagers from across China used video cameras to record the changing rural dynamics in their home villages. Jian Yi is also the founder of the Participatory Documentary Center at Jinggangshan University and Original Studio, one of the nation’s first innovative community art centers. His documentaries and feature films, which reveal the social and cultural tensions of contemporary China, have won international awards and are shown worldwide. He is a 2010 Open Society Institute Fellow.

The video of Jian’s interview is in four 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 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.

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Video: Jian Yi Speaks to Soros Foundation / Open Society Institute

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Jian Yi (Photo by Christopher Capozziello for the Open Society Institute)

Next week, we’ll post the second of our video interviews produced from the “Meet the Filmmakers” series held in Feburary 2010 at the Apple Store in Sanlitun, Beijing. The video will feature Jian Yi, one of the most accomplished and ambitious independent filmmakers working in China today. Jian Yi directed the critically acclaimed films Super, Girls! and Bamboo Shoots, and co-directed the groundbreaking China Village Documentary Project, in which ordinary villagers from across China used video cameras to record the changing rural dynamics in their home villages. He is also the founder of the Participatory Documentary Center at Jinggangshan University and Original Studio, one of the nations first innovative community art centers. His documentaries and feature films, which reveal the social and cultural tensions of contemporary China, have won international awards and are shown worldwide.

Jian is also the founder of IFCHINA, a pioneering NGO that helps ordinary citizens in small and medium-sized Chinese cities document their own lives through videography, theater, and photography. Provincial communities are losing collective memory as residents migrate to the coastal metropolises in search of work. Jian Yi believes that video technology can preserve that memory, while stimulating a sense of civic engagement and strengthening shared values. He is currently working to seed a project in Ji’an City, the cradle of the communist revolution and the major pilgrimage site for Maoists across China.

Jian Yi’s work led him to receive a prestigious fellowship with the Open Society Institute, funded by the Soros Foundation. The OSI posted this brief video with Jian Yi, speaking in English about his work. It’s a nice preview to the more lengthy interview that we will be posting next week.

Zhao Liang’s Petition screening at Migrating Forms Festival

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Petition (dir. Zhao Liang)

As this year’s Cannes Film Festival gets into gear this weekend, one of the standout films from last year’s festival will make its way to New York City for a special screening. Petition, the acclaimed documentary by Zhao Liang, will screen Sunday, May 16 at 6:15 PM at Anthology Film Archives as part of the Migrating Forms Festival.

From the program description (taken from the Harvard Film Archive):

“The dysfunctional Chinese court system allows citizens with grievances against their local governments to petition the court to clear or correct their record. Yet in order to do so, the petitioners must travel to Beijing to file paperwork and wait an indefinite period to plead their case. The vast majority of petitioners are impoverished villagers who travel far to the capital and typically end up waiting desperately in decrepit shantytowns for their cases to be settled, often pressured by hired thugs to return home. Following the saga of a group of petitioners over the years of 1996 and 2008, Petition unfolds like a novel by Zola or Dickens. Unwilling to accept defeat and seemingly unable to do anything but wait, the petitioners enter a strange and often terrifying zone, gradually losing touch with family and friends back home and with the cruel reality of their situation.”

dGenerate Films is proud to distribute Zhao Liang’s previous film Crime and Punishment, now available for pre-order. Find out more.

Press on Beijing Apple Store Events with dGenerate Filmmakers

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Cui Zi'en, director of Queer China, Comrade China, speaks at the Apple store in Beijing. (Photo: Robert Douglas)

Following up on our recent “Meet the Filmmakers” series at the Apple Store in Sanlitun, Beijing, here are a couple of links to local coverage of the events.

At The Beijinger, Dan Edwards talks to Karin Chien about the Apple Store events and China’s digital filmmaking revolution.

At the Global Times, Robert Powers reports on Apple Store appearances made by filmmakers Jian Yi and Cui Zi’en.

We’re pleased to announce that the “Meet the Filmmakers” series will continue with other filmmakers appearing at the Apple Store Sanlitun over the coming months. Stay tuned for details.

“MEET THE FILMMAKERS” at the Apple Store Beijing

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

dGenerate Films is teaming up with the Apple Store in Beijing to present a new monthly series to showcase China’s newest filmmakers powered by digital technology. Digital tools, from digital video cameras to editing software, have placed filmmaking in the hands of the people. Listen and watch how award-winning directors use digital technology to create their latest movies, attracting worldwide attention and acclaim.

All events will be held at the Apple Store in Sanlitun, Beijing, starting at 7pm.

Events are listed below in English; scroll further to read them in Chinese.

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