Posts Tagged ‘robert koehler’

Three New Chinese Indie Docs Reviewed in Variety and Twitch

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

By Kevin B. Lee

"Are We Really So Far from the Madhouse?"

Covering the Vancouver International Film Festival for Variety, Robert Koehler has been filing rave reviews of some new Chinese independent documentaries he’s seen at the festival’s Dragons and Tigers lineup. We are excited to see his praise for Bachelor Mountain, the new film by Yu Guangyi (whose Timber Gang is distributed by dGenerate) and Are We Really So Far from the Madhouse, the latest by Li Hongqi (whose Winter Vacation is available through dGF).

Coincidentally, the same three documentaries are also reviewed enthusiastically by Kathie Smith, who covered VIFF for the website Twitch.

Click through to read excerpts from Koehler’s and Smith’s reviews – click on their names to access the full text of Koehler’s reviews on Variety (registration required) and Smith’s on Twitch. Also read the program notes on all Chinese language films at VIFF by programmer Shelly Kraicer.


Jia Zhangke on “Bull—-” Patriotism, Li Hongqi, Dragons and Tigers: New Cinema-Scope

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Jia Zhangke

The new issue of Cinema Scope magazine has a heavy dose of Chinese cinema coverage.

In the magazine, Jia Zhangke, whose most recent film is the documentary on Shanghai I Wish I Knew, talks about disturbing behavior he has witnessed by Chinese audience members at international festivals in an essay titled “On the Bullshit Logic of Patriotism:”

A woman, about 20 years old and rather timid in aspect, addressed me in the lobby: “Director, I would like to ask you a question that won’t make you happy. Why do you want to shoot such a filthy-looking Shanghai and such politicized characters for the benefit of Westerners?” I replied: “I’m shooting the real Shanghai. Peyond Pudong and Huaihai Road, Shanghai also has industrial areas clustered on both banks of Suzhou River; it has small, narrow alleyways in the southern part of the city. This is what life looks like here. This is what Shanghai looks like.” The woman suddenly became angry. “So, haven’t you taken into consideration how your film will look to foreigners who watch it? How it will influence their impressions of Shanghai and of China? How it will even influence foreigners’ confidence in investing in China?” I also go angry. “What’s the point of worrying so much about foreigners? Should we ignore what actually exists just for the sake of a bit of foreign investment, for the sake of whatever impressions foreigners might derive of China? The vast majority of china’s 1.3 billion people still live in the same conditions of poverty that they always have. How can we ignore this?”


“Stunning:” Crime and Punishment Reviewed by Variety

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

This week on dGenerate we will be featuring articles related to Zhao Liang’s acclaimed documentary Crime and Punishment to coincide with the screening of his films at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Click here for more information on the screenings.

Crime and Punishment (dir. Zhao Liang)

This rave by Robert Koehler in Variety was one of the key reviews that drove us to pursue Crime and Punishment and eventually distribute it as part of the dGenerate catalog. Reading it, you can see why. Better yet, see the film at Anthology Film Archives during its run!

Here are some choice excerpts. The full review can be accessed at Variety.


By Robert Koehler

In his stunning “Crime and Punishment,” documentary filmmaker Zhao Liang upturns the common perception that Chinese media and artists have little or no access to corridors of the military and law enforcement. At the same time, Zhao reveals a community hugging the border with North Korea where lawbreaking and extreme poverty go hand-in-hand. Rigorously observational and sometimes quite amusing when it isn’t shocking, pic further cements China’s position as a doc powerhouse, and should spark tube and cable sales in most major markets.


Film Comment Spotlights Chinese Indie Films from Vancouver Film Fest

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Rumination (dir. Xu Ruotao)

Over at Film Comment, critic Robert Koehler zeroes in on the Dragons and Tigers showcase of Asian Cinema at the Vancouver International Film Festival, programmed by Tony Rayns and Shelly Kraicer. He devotes special attention to the films from China, proclaiming, “The selection of Chinese films reconfirmed the fact that, right now, no country in the world is making more interesting and original work.”

Koehler singles in on three films in particular, comments on each excerpted below:

“Xu Ruotao’s Rumination, an astonishing and radical re-envisioning of the Cultural Revolution. Xu comes to the cinema from the visual arts and confidently rejects many conceits of not just historical film genre, but also of the poetic, auteur-driven tendencies that dominate the current festival scene. He often aims to make the viewer reconsider what they think they know about the cinematic re-staging of history. His treatment of Red Guard units running amok in the countryside is alternately a dream choreographed as a riot, and a documentary of the ways revolutionary thought is turned into religion. For instance: during scenes of the soldiers’ chanting and recitation of Maoist cant – interrupted by beatings and the interrogations of innocents – a weirdly feverish ecstasy fills the screen.