Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Review: The Transition Period shows the true power center of Chinese government

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

"The Transition Period" shows the inner workings of local politics in China

U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke’s recent arrival in Beijing generated intense discussions among Chinese nationals about how Chinese civil servants compare unfavorably to their American counterparts. As reported in a September 20th article in The Wall Street Journal’s blog “China Real Time Report,” the central government and its affiliated media bodies such as the Guangming Daily and the Xinhua News Agency tried to cast aspersions over the political motives behind the U.S. government’s choice of a Chinese-American ambassador. But Chinese online netizens focused on something entirely different. After seeing photos of Locke buying his own coffee and carrying his own bags, and learning that he flew coach to China, Chinese web commentators assailed their civil servants for squandering taxpayers’ money on ridiculously extravagant meals, cars, and the like, and for shirking physical work and other chores that they consider to be below their dignity.

Zhou Hao’s 2011 documentary The Transition Period, which will be playing next Monday in Chicago’s Doc Films series on Chinese independent cinema, looks at the working life of one typical Chinese civil servant by the name of Guo Yongchang before his transfer to a new post within the Chinese government. Shot over the last three months of Guo working as the party secretary of the Committee of the Communist Party of Gushi County in Xinyang Municipality of Henan Province, this documentary presents different facets of Guo’s work as a medium- to low-level Chinese civil servant in a leading position. This article aims at laying out some groundwork in China’s political system and its political environment for first-time viewers of the documentary, as sometimes the stories in the documentary are more complicated than their presentations. (Spoilers may follow.)

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The Selling of Culture in China

Friday, December 18th, 2009
Zhao Dayong

Zhao Dayong

How China is using art (and artists) to sell itself to the world” is an informative and insightful article in The Star by Murray Whyte. It analyzes China’s recent boom in cultural and media industries and its discontents – a burgeoning scene of individual expression. dGenerate directors Ou Ning and Zhao Dayong and producer David Bandurski are featured in the article as prominent representatives of the alternative art scene.

For Whyte, China’s recent supports and displays of cultural development reflect the government’s deep desire to raise “soft power”– “the ability of a political body to get what it wants through cultural or ideological attraction”–in order to match its huge economic development. The efforts include the plans for new museums and “creative districts” nationwide, proliferation of a glossy magazine industry that embraces Western excess, participation in global cultural events such as the Frankfurt Book Fair, the induction of formerly underground filmmakers back into state-run studios, and the production of big-budget political blockbusters such as The Founding of a Republic.

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Statement by Jia Zhangke on his withdrawal from Melbourne International Film Festival

Friday, July 24th, 2009

As a follow-up to yesterday’s news of three Chinese films pulling out of the Melbourne International Film Festival in protest to a documentary on Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, we are posting a translation of a statement made by Jia Zhangke concerning his decision to withdraw his short film as well as Emily Tang’s A Perfect Life, produced by Jia’s company XStream Pictures. The original statement in Chinese, found here, was translated by Yuqian Yan. In this statement Jia refers to another protest, by British director Ken Loach, who withdrew from the festival after objecting to the festival’s sponsorship by the state of Israel.

1. We have no intention to interfere with the film festival’s freedom to facilitate artistic communication. It is our way of self-discipline to withdraw from the Melbourne Film Festival. I’m not an expert at Xinjiang history, but since it is only two weeks after the Urumqi riots, I think we should at least be cautious not to offend the victims.

2. The political inclination of the Melbourne Film Festival this year is getting stronger. First, it was the British director Ken Loach who questioned the funding of the festival, accusing them of using blood money. Then Ten Conditions of Love, a documentary about Rebiya Kadeer, appeared on the program list. They even organized a series of activities for her.

3. We think attending the same event with Rebiya Kadeer contains political meanings. It is emotionally intolerable and practically inappropriate. So the staff of Xstream Pictures agreed to withdraw from the festival to show our attitude and stance.

4. On July 19, our company representative Zhou Qiang (Chow Keung) wrote to the president of Melbourne Film Festival, announcing that two films from XStream Pictures: “Cry Me a River” and A Perfect Life will withdraw from the festival. Director Emily Tang Xiaobai and producer Zhou Qiang (Chow Keung) also canceled their plans to attend the festival.

Chinese indie films pull out of film festival in response to Uighur doc

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Three Chinese films have been pulled from the Melbourne International Film Festival program Tuesday in the wake of pressure from Chinese government representatives in Australia last week, regarding the premiere of documentary 10 Conditions of Love, which profiles Rebiya Kadeer, the leader in exile of the Uighur minority in western China.

The three films in question are Emily Tang’s A Perfect Life, Zhao Liang’s documentary Petition (which premiered at Cannes in May), and Jia Zhangke’s short film Cry Me a River.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Kadeer has widely been blamed by Beijing for inciting this month’s ethnic riots, which left at least 156 dead, mostly Han Chinese, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

Festival organizer Richard Moore told The Hollywood Reporter that the filmmakers objected to the presence of Kadeer at the festival and the inclusion of “10 Conditions” in the program.

On July 15, Moore received a call from Chinese consular staff in Melbourne demanding that “10 Conditions” be withdrawn ahead of its Aug. 8 premiere and wanting justification for its inclusion.

Moore reiterated on Tuesday that MIFF continues to stand by its decision to program the film.

“As a festival we continue to aim to support a plurality of views and are disappointed that this action has been taken,” he said.”

Read the full article.

The Age in Australia reports:

Festival director Richard Moore said yesterday it was a major disruption and uncalled for.

“I am obviously upset because we have supported the work of these filmmakers in the past,” he said. “People get passionate about their films every year but this … I wasn’t expecting this amount of dissent from outside forces.”

Asked whether he believed Chinese filmmakers had been pressured to withdraw by the Chinese Government, Mr Moore, said it was extremely sensitive: “I can’t comment further.”

Read the full article.