Posts Tagged ‘san yuan li’

Shelly on Film: What is a Chinese Film?

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

By Shelly Kraicer

San Yuan Li

San Yuan Li (dir. Ou Ning, 2003)

What is a Chinese film? Ever since I’ve started living and working in Beijing over six years ago, most serious discussions about Chinese cinema ultimately come down to this elemental question, either in its descriptive mode (what defines a Chinese film?) or in its more urgently prescriptive version (what should a Chinese film be?). Often, it’s filmmakers themselves who seem most anxious about the issue. Behind it lie several subsidiary anxieties: “What do Westerners want from Chinese films?”, “What’s my role in Chinese society?”, “Are films art, or commerce, or politics?”

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CinemaTalk: A Conversation with Chris Berry

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Chris Berry

dGenerate Films is pleased to introduce CinemaTalk, an ongoing series of conversations with esteemed scholars of Chinese cinema studies. These conversations will be presented on this site in audio podcast and/or text format. They are intended to help the Chinese cinema studies community keep abreast of the latest work being done in the field, as well as to learn what recent Chinese films are catching the attention of others. This series reflects our mission to bring valuable resources and foster community around the field of Chinese film studies.

For our first CinemaTalk, we spoke with Chris Berry, Professor of Film and Television Studies in the Department of Media and Communication at Goldsmiths, University of London. Some of Chris’ work includes:

  • Author, Cinema and the National: China on Screen (Columbia University Press and Hong Kong University Press, 2006) with Mary Farquhar
  • Author, Postsocialist Cinema in Post-Mao China: The Cultural Revolution after the Cultural Revolution (New York: Routledge, 2004)
  • Editor (with Ying Zhu), TV China (Indiana University Press, 2008)
  • Editor, Chinese Films in Focus II (British Film Institute, 2008)
  • Editor (with Feii Lu), Island on the Edge: Taiwan New Cinema and After (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2005)
  • Editor (with Fran Martin and Audrey Yue), Mobile Cultures: New Media and Queer Asia (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003)
  • Translator and Editor, Ni Zhen’s Memoirs from the Beijing Film Academy: The Origins of China’s Fifth Generation Filmmakers (Duke University Press, 2002)
  • Author, “Imaging the Globalized City: Rem Koolhaas, U-thèque, and the Pearl River Delta,” in Cinema at the City’s Edge, edited by Yomi Braester and James Tweedie (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, forthcoming), part of a series TransAsia: Screen Cultures, co-edited by Chris Berry and Koichi Iwabuchi

Kevin Lee, dGenerate’s VP of Programming of Education, spoke with Chris about various topics from his current work and areas of focus, to comparisons between contemporary Chinese cinema and the Fifth Generation filmmakers whom he helped to champion in the 1980s and 1990s, to which recent Chinese films that have excited him the most.

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Full transcript follows after the break.

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The dGenerate Films Birth Story

Monday, June 8th, 2009

We’re thrilled at dGenerate Films to be launching our first slate of films. In honor of the occasion, I was recently thinking about the journey we undertook to get here.

The idea for the company was inspired by one of our films, San Yuan Li, by Ou Ning and Cao Fei. By a chance encounter, I indirectly helped Andrew Gluckman, now a good friend, book a screening of San Yuan Li at New York University in December 2007. At the time, I had no inkling of what was to happen. Nor did I know anything about the film. But when I saw San Yuan Li, I was blown away by the artistry and production methodology of the film. After the screening, Ou Ning told me many films in China were being made underground, meaning without censorship and without any chance at domestic distribution.

I knew there was an audience here for these films – given the immense interest in China, and a general lack of access to media made from within China, it seemed like an obvious one-two connection. Problem was, I was and still am an independent film producer, a consuming profession. I self-distributed films I produced, but the thought of tunneling a new route to bring underground Chinese films to the U.S. was daunting.

So I mulled over the idea, and a month later, it came out in an idle chat between myself and Brian Newman, Tribeca Film Institute’s Executive Director, as we were riding the free Sundance Film Festival shuttle bus. Brian said he was developing a new platform called Reframe designed specifically to distribute independent films to the academic market. He promised to accept all the films I brought back China. Reframe would take care of the physical manufacturing and order fulfillment. Brian’s offer suddenly made the idea much less daunting. I got back on the phone with Ou Ning, who immediately sent me forty films to watch.

The content was there, the distribution network was coming, all that was needed now was the missing link between the two.

More information on San Yuan Li can be found here.

Come back soon for Part 2 of “The Birth of dGenerate Films” by dGenerate President Karin Chien