Posts Tagged ‘realtime arts’

RealTime Reviews Films by dGenerate Directors at HKIFF

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

The High Life (dir. Zhao Dayong)

by Isabella Tianzi Cai

RealTime Arts, Australia’s critical guide to contemporary international arts, recently reviewed several films from the 34th Hong Kong International Film Festival – several by directors with films distributed by dGenerate.

In the Asian Digital Competition section of HKIFF, the awards went to Zhao Dayong’s The High Life and Yang Heng’s Sun Spots. RealTime’s Mike Walsh comments on the former, “Characters enter and then leave the narrative, frustrating our attempt to approach contemporary China in exclusively personal terms. It is worth comparing this to the structure of Zhao’s previous documentary Ghost Town which is divided into three parts, each focusing on a different character.” dGenerate Films distributes Ghost Town as well as Zhao’s debut feature Street Life (coming soon), and Yang Heng’s Betelnut.

In the same article, Walsh also highly commends Liu Jiayin’s mesmerizing documentary Oxhide II, the sequel to Oxhide (distributed by dGenerate). He writes,

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“Alternative Realities:” China’s Digital Documentary Filmmakers

Monday, April 26th, 2010

1428 (dir. Du Haibin)

In the newest issue of RealTime Arts Magazine, there is a rousing article by Dan Edwards on the significance of digital independent filmmaking in China. Here’s the opening passage:

While China’s political system remains deeply authoritarian, the country’s overwhelming size and explosive growth have opened cavernous gaps in the government’s control of culture, through which a new generation of DV-wielding documentary filmmakers has climbed.

Edwards profiles films such as Hu Jie’s In Search of Lin Zhao’s Soul, Ou Ning’s Meishi Street, and Du Haibin’s 1428 (editor: The latter two are distributed by dGenerate Films). He also interviews three notable figures in the contemporary digital filmmaking scene: producer/journalist David Bandurski (Ghost Town), artist/filmmaker Ou Ning and filmmaker/journalist Hu Jie. Here are some choice quotes from each:

Bandurski: “I’ve never heard an independent filmmaker in China ask themselves, ‘Can I do this?… Independent filmmaking is the freest avenue of expression that exists in China today.”

Ou: “Before, history only had one version – by the Chinese Communist Party… Now with digital technology history has different versions.”

Hu: “I knew very little about the history of the 1950s and 60s… While making Lin Zhao I had the sense that I was feeling around in the dark. Then I found the door of history, opened it and walked through. There I found a lot of ridiculous, cruel stories that really shocked me, and that was the motivation to go further.”

Read the complete article at RealTime Arts.

Find out more about Meishi Street, 1428, and Ghost Town.

Review of Ghost Town in RealTime Arts Magazine

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

GhostTown1Written by Dan Edwards. An excerpt:

Zhao Dayong achieves an extraordinary intimacy with his subjects, no doubt partly due to the amount of time he spent living in the town, but also through his approach to the filmmaking process. The nature of digital camera technology allowed him to work without a professional crew and instead recruit townspeople to help with the shoot. Zhao explains, “I had three people assisting me, all local villagers. For example, the truck driver who appears in part two of the film often helped me with sound recording. This way I was able to maintain close relationships with people in the village.”

At one level the townspeople of Zhiziluo are clearly victims of China’s new economic order, which has seen major coastal cities greatly enriched at the expense of rural areas. Zhao resists straightforward socio-economic analysis however, instead implying the aimless existence of the town’s inhabitants is symptomatic of a broader malaise. “Through the town I began to see and reflect on my own life”, Zhao says of his experiences shooting Ghost Town. “A process of self-reflection is, for me, the essence of filmmaking. As I was living with these people I came to realize just how uncertain their lives and fates were. The empty government buildings in which they live do not belong to them, and the fate of the place itself, of its architecture, was also in question. They were merely floating in the world, without any sense of safety and security, and their existential condition was basically no different from my own.”

Ghost Town doesn’t purport to provide solutions to the situations it depicts, but rather asks viewers to consider, along with the filmmaker and the town’s residents, how we find meaning in a world seemingly without philosophical or ideological bearings. As Zhao Dayong comments, “Film, like painting, is a method and technique of thought. All forms of creativity are rooted in this question – how to think and reflect.” The tragedy is that Chinese audiences are largely excluded from this process. Mainland television broadcasts only state-approved products and commercial cinemas are only permitted to screen licensed films, meaning documentaries like Ghost Town are rarely seen inside the People’s Republic. Fortunately for international audiences, the questions Ghost Town poses resonate far beyond China’s borders.

Read the full review at RealTime Arts.