Posts Tagged ‘meishi street’

Meishi Street Reviewed in Senses of Cinema

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

In the online journal Senses of Cinema, Luke Robinson reviews the documentary Meishi Street (directed by Ou Ning) which will screen this weekend at the Melbourne International Film Festival, as part of “Street Level Visions“, a series of contemporary Chinese independent documentaries.

Meishi Street shows ordinary Beijing citizens taking a stand against the planned destruction of their homes for the 2008 Olympics. An excerpt from Robinson’s review:

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Ai Weiwei on Beijing, a “Nightmare” of a City

Friday, September 9th, 2011

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

The Olympic Stadium in Beijing, designed by Ai Weiwei in the city he now calls "a nightmare"


In his essay posted on The Daily Beast on August 28, 2010, artist Ai Weiwei rants about Beijing being a nightmarish city for anyone to live in. He says that the rapid economic progress of China has ironically made its capital unrecognizable and its people identity-less, and the country’s political rigidity has only worsened these problems.

In a depressing overview of the people living in Beijing, Ai sorts them into one of the two categories. One, he says, are the money-grabbers and power-worshippers who are distressingly predictable. “You don’t want to look at a person walking past because you know exactly what’s on his mind.” Frustrated, he goes on. “No curiosity. And no one will even argue with you.” The other category, which refers to the mass middle to low wage earners in the city, sounds just as pitiful. “I see people on public buses, and I see their eyes, and I see they hold no hope,” Ai observes.
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Ou Ning Programs Chinese Documentary Series in Countryside

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

By Ou Ning

The following is a translation of an announcement from the Bishan Harvestival found on artist/curator/filmmaker Ou Ning’s Weibo feed. It is translated by Isabella Tianzi Cai.

The Bishan Harvestival is a three-day festival of performances, discussions and other events organized on the topic of rural culture in China. It will be held in Bishan village in Yi County, Anhui Province, August 26-28. More details can be found on Ou Ning’s website Alternative Archive.

Ou Ning is the director of Meishi Street and San Yuan Li, both available through dGenerate.

Xiuli Film Lot in Li County of Anhui Province

Bishan Harvestival
Film screenings: Paradox of Reality: Contemporary Documentaries on the Chinese Countryside

Time: August 28, 2011 10:00-18:00
Place: The Film Theater at Xiuli Film Lot in Yi County of Anhui Province

The Chinese independent film movement, which started in the early 1990s, has consistently delved into the vast undocumented reality of Chinese society, recording life in the time of change and writing history from the micro perspective of one individual. Many filmmakers associated with this movement show great concern over the changing living conditions of Chinese villagers and their outlook on life; these filmmakers have devoted tremendous energy in bringing forth the social problems, the political movements, the religious practices, the customs and traditions, and the preservation of history in rural China. They are often seen around villagers’ houses and fields, using their lens to sculpture the changing times experienced by a time-honored agricultural society under the myriad forces of modernization. Their documentaries are one of the most valuable historical records of rural China.

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Beijing Demolition for Subway Sprawl Provokes Resistance

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

By Kevin B. Lee

Demolition Dominates the Residents of Beijing in "Meishi Street"

In China Beat, Jared Hall reports on the spate of public protests that have been prevalent throughout the expansion of the Beijing subway system. Hall focuses on the story of Wang Shibo, whose family shop was slated for demolition to make way for a subway station, at the risk of ruining the family financially:

According to Wang, the family invested practically everything they had to renovate the small clothing shop. But when the subway corporation abruptly presented a notice of eviction, they were reportedly offered just two percent of their investment back in compensation. The very public confrontation with the subway corporation that followed attracted the interest of the international press and a delegation from the National People’s Congress. The shop was torn down two weeks later, but not before an agreement was quietly reached with the family.

Dramatic as the Wang family’s crisis in the face of demolition may be (at one point Wang’s parents doused themselves with gasoline and threatened to burn themselves), it’s a situation that is anything but uncommon in Beijing. (more…)

CinemaTalk: A Conversation with Ou Ning

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

By Dan Edwards

Ou NIng

In addition to being an artist, curator, writer, and director of the Shao Foundation, China’s cultural renaissance man Ou Ning is also an acclaimed documentary filmmaker. After making the experimental San Yuan Li in 2003 with Cao Fei and other members of the U-theque collective in Guangzhou, Ou Ning relocated to China’s capital, where he made Meishi St (2006) about the demolition of one of Beijing’s oldest areas in the lead-up to the 2008 Olympics. Both films are now part of the dGenerate Films catalogue.

In March 2010 I interviewed Ou Ning in Beijing about his filmmaking career for an article I was writing on China’s independent documentary sector for RealTime Arts magazine in Australia. Only a few select quotes appeared in that piece, but the complete interview contains a wealth of fascinating material not only on Ou’s background, but also the rise of China’s “digital” documentary generation.

Thanks to Ou Ning for his time and for speaking so openly about some controversial matters. The interview was conducted mostly in English.


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dGenerate Titles now available on Objective Cinema

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

Three dGenerate films are now available on Objective Cinema, a newly launched online platform for select social- and political-themed films.

The films are Ban Zhongyi’s Gai Shanxi and Her Sisters, Rachel Tejada’s Digital Underground in the People’s Republic, and Ou Ning’s Meishi Street.

Watch now on Objective Cinema:

Gai Shanxi and Her Sisters

Digital Underground in the People’s Republic

Meishi Street

The goal of Objective Cinema is to support and encourage social change at a grass roots level by making socially conscious films available to a worldwide audience. Gai Shanxi and Her Sisters documents the story around a group of Chinese women forced into sex slavery by Japanese soldiers in the Sino-Japanese War. Digital Underground in the People’s Republic penetrates the close circle of contemporary Chinese filmmakers and brings their voices to the fore. And Meishi Street archives the images of a demolished street in Beijing and the grievances of the uprooted residents for the 2008 Olympic Games.

Trailers, intros, and stills from the films are also available on Object Cinema’s website. Registered members can also rent the films online for a period of 48 hours or buy them on DVD.

Olympic Artist Ai Weiwei the Latest in China’s Long List of Evictees

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Artist Ai Weiwei (source: Archinect)

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

Chinese architect and artist Ai Weiwei, designer of the famous “Bird’s Nest” Olympic Stadium in Beijing, and whose current “Sunflower Seeds” exhibition is receiving critical acclaim in the Tate Modern Gallery in London, now faces the demolition of his Shanghai art studio demolished later this month. According to the Chinese government, Ai’s studio was erected illegally and had to be removed by law. But according to the artist, the building project was initiated by a high government official who came to him in 2008, soliciting his help in developing a new cultural district in Shanghai. The current accusation against Ai states that he does not have the proper paperwork for the building project, but two years ago before the project started, Ai was told that the paper works were all in place. The contradiction in the government’s statements arouses Ai’s suspicion that the demolition is a retaliatory act against his political activism in China’s human rights movement, which remains a hot-button issue with the Chinese government.

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Struggles of Chinese Evictees Turned Into Video Game

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Nail Household Fighting Against Demolition Squad

by Sara Beretta

Sometimes reality exceeds the virtual, in its absurdity, strangeness and grotesquery. It also happens that the virtual realm can help in coping with the harshness of real life, by re-enacting and mocking its absurdity and cruelty. This is the case of Nail Household Fighting Against Demolition Squad, the online flash game by Mirage Games that is spreading like wildfire over China. First appearing on the popular website 17173, it’s one of the most played online games.

The so-called “nail householders,” their houses left as lonely nails in the middle of already demolished ones, have to hire people to face the demolition team men, who are milling about to crash down the remaining squatters. There’s Mrs. and Grandpa Ding (Chinese for “nail”) and their six-member family fighting against the crew – with slippers, homemade tools and other scrappy objects – in order to keep their houses standing. What is unusual for a video game is that there are but a few chances to win: after strenuously fighting for six levels, the player hits the “survival level,” set up so that the player is all but doomed, something that rather closely resembles the game’s real life basis.

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Defending Culture and Democracy in Chinese Independent Documentaries

Monday, August 30th, 2010

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

The latest issue of Hong Kong-based Open Magazine features three articles on citizens’ documentary in Chinese civil rights movements. One of them, written by Teng Biao, who is a human rights lawyer in Beijing, has been translated and published at Interlocals.net. See original.

In the article, Teng gives a comprehensive overview of the civic documentary movement in China for the past few decades. While the facts are impressive in both volume and numbers, the ideas aren’t all new to us. He writes,

Information monopoly is designed to benefit those in power, while Citizens Documentary can eliminate the cover-ups in certain extent. Only a few documentaries can already make the dictatorship pay a huge price. One can imagine that with the expansion of the Civic Documentary campaign, covering up truth will be a futile and obsolete attempt. Till then, there should be a significant change in the mode of power operation. (Interlocals)

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In Urban China, Resisting the Land Grab

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

by Ariella Tai

The Laogucheng neighborhood in Beijing is being demolished. (Photo: Shiho Fukada, The New York Times)

The New York Times recently featured an article entitled “Trampled in a Land Rush, Chinese Resist.” In anticipation of the possible passing of new legislation to protect the rights of low-income homeowners, local officials and developers are rushing to take advantage of the current absence of regulation. In neighborhoods like Beijing’s Laogucheng, residents have united as a community, standing up to real-estate developers planning to level their homes and construct enormously profitable high-rises and greenbelts in their stead.

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