Posts Tagged ‘san yuan li’

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:


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.


Cao Fei and Chinese Youth Culture

Thursday, July 7th, 2011
20110605_caofei_ss-slide-GW8U-popup.jpg (650×430)

Cao Fei (photo credit: The New York Times)

By Ariella Tai

Internationally renowned visual artist Cao Fei has recently put on a new show entitled “Play Time,” pieces of which are currently on view at the Lombard-Freid Projects in Chelsea, New York City. The show takes inspiration from children’s television shows like “Thomas and Friends,” “Teletubbies” and the BBC program “The Night Garden,” as well as other forms of youth entertainment, like puppets and miniature skateboards. The New York Times profile observes, “The show seems to be a transitional one for Ms. Cao, who plans to shut down “RMB City” [her acclaimed online interactive environment] this summer. But it has her trademark sensibility: pop and playful on the surface, complex social portrait underneath.” Her reconstruction of Thomas the Tank Engine travels around Beijing as it picks up construction debris and transports it to a large dump near the Summer Palace, while her skate park for tiny skateboards exhibits architecture reflecting the highly developed landscapes of contemporary Chinese cities.

More after the break.


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.


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.


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 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)


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.


San Yuan Li at Portland’s NW Film Center

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Just a reminder that Ou Ning and Cao Fei’s experimental documentary San Yuan Li, which examines the modern paradox of China’s economic growth versus the social marginalization of many of its citizens, is playing in Portland, Oregon this Saturday, December 5, at 2pm. Check it out, our friends at the NW Film Center, which is part of the Portland Art Museum, have programmed it as part of their “Lens on China” series. For more information, visit their site.

Meishi Street and San Yuan Li in Portland (OR)

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Anyone in the Portland, Oregon area has the chance to view two dGenerate films at the Portland Art Museum’s NW Film Center in the coming weeks. Ou Ning’s Meishi Street will be screening on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7 pm and Ou Ning and Cao Fei’s San Yuan Li screens Saturday, Dec. 5 at 2 pm. Both of these films are part of the NW Film Center’s Lens on China II series, which they describe thusly:

Since the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, China has undergone a series of profound, ever-accelerating transformations spurred by experiments with a market economy and a more open approach to foreign investment and external cultures. In the last decade the consequences of these changes have dramatically impacted China and its place in the world. Concurrent with the Portland Art Museum’s CHINA DESIGN NOW exhibition, the Northwest Film Center continues to explore the perspectives of Chinese and western filmmakers whose works reflect on the broad currents of contemporary change in Chinese society. As China’s past and future collide, the works by these media artists provide unique insight into the social and aesthetic confusions, obstacles, and opportunities being navigated in the interstices between history, daily reality, and the future’s promises.

Other films screening as part of this series include Jia Zhangke’s 24 City, Ning Ying’s I Love Beijing and Perpetual Motion, and Jennifer Baichwal’s Manufactured Landscapes.

More details can be found at the NW Film Center site.

Canadian Premiere of The Other Half

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

the_other_half-thumbOn Friday, November 6, the Gibsone Jessop Gallery in Toronto, Canada, launches a screening series of contemporary Chinese films in partnership with dGenerate Films. This five film series will begin with Ying Liang’s The Other Half, “a fierce and harrowing cry of political rage.” (The New Yorker)

This marks the first in a five-film screening series at Toronto’s Gibsone Jessop Gallery. Gibsone Jessop not only showcases international contemporary art from around the globe, with a special focus on China, they also host nightly events such as film screenings, theater and music that deepen the understanding of the cultures and context their artists create within. The next five Fridays will highlight different dGenerate films. Subsequent screenings include San Yuan Li, Little Moth, Using, and Queer China, ‘Comrade’ China.

Visit Gibsone Jessop’s site for more information about the event.

Friday, November 6, 2009, 7:30pm
To reserve tickets, please email
Tickets: $10 in advance, $12 at the door
Limited Seating.