Posts Tagged ‘sara beretta’

A Mad Dance on Shanghai Streets: Zhao Dayong’s Street Life

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

By Sara Beretta

This entry is part of a weeklong spotlight of newly available titles in the dGenerate Films catalog.

Director Zhao Dayong opens his documentary Street Life with Big Fatty, a physically imposing but cheerful homeless man who collects recyclable litter during the day and turns into a “street slam poet” at night. He sits in the middle of Shanghai’s Nanjing Road, a luxury shopping district whose daytime crowds give way to “invisible” people lurking on the streets at night. A sort of Chinese homeless griot, Big Fatty sings from the popular masterpiece Journey to the West (Wu Cheng’en, 16th century): “Oh the great Monkey King! There is no hurry, monkey. The Celestial Emperor has asked you to look after his horses… But the Monkey King didn’t kneel down. He didn’t understand the rules of Heaven.” Big Fatty’s Impromptu recitation of classic Chinese literature constrasts starkly against Nanjing Road’s night landscape of neon signs and Western luxury shops and restaurants.

Since 1845, Nanjing Road (formerly Park Lane or Main Road) has been a bustling commercial artery of Shanghai, rich in history (a tragic accident occurred here in 1937 during the war with Japan) and commerce. Today Nanjing Road is still the main shopping street in Shanghai, alluring people with its copious malls and electronic billboards, the symbol of development and economic success attracting migrants from all over the country. Zhao Dayong traces a vivid and somewhat ghastly fresco reflecting another side of Nanjing Road, a brutal, raw, and real tale about migrants living and surviving on the street.

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Filmmakers Share Their Visions at the Get It Louder Creative Showcase

Friday, November 5th, 2010

By Sara Beretta

Director Liu Jiayin answering questions at Get It Louder (photo: Get It Louder)

Get It Louder (Da Sheng Zhan), one of China’s hottest showcases for emerging creative talent, followed its first session in Beijing with a run in Shanghai. The film program was particularly intense, featuring 26 movies (9 documentaries and 17 narrative) by both Chinese and non-Chinese filmmakers. The screenings included dGenerate titles Er Dong (dir. Yang Jin), Oxhide I & II (dir. Liu Jiayin) and Street Life (dir. Zhao Dayong).

Get It Louder’s stated theme of “Sharism,” emphasizing a spirit of collaboration and exchange among audiences and artists, was especially pertinent to the independent films on display, which otherwise are largely inaccessible to audiences in China. Director Q&A sessions were characterized not only by technical and artistic topics, but often went in depth over the the directors’ intentions. The concept of “Sharism” was demonstrated in the exchanges between viewers and directors, enriching the cinematic experience. One’s individual experiences of the film is not cancelled but amplified in exchanging perceptions with others.

The artistry and complexity of the works shone through in the screenings. The hard life of homeless migrant workers is realistically and poetically told by Zhao Dayong in Street Life. The fiction work by Yang Jin is deeply rooted in his own experience growing up in rural Shanxi province. Liu Jiayin’s exploration of time and space creatively transforms gestures and rituals we all pass through daily. Once again, art and life are not that far from each other, and sharing the experience of feeling and commenting on them is enriching and worthy. Hope there will be more and more events and occasions – in China and elsewhere – to have a look at ourselves through the eyes (and lens) of independent directors.