Posts Tagged ‘searching for lin zhao’s soul’

11 Chinese Independent Films Screening this Fall in Chicago – Starts Monday

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Oxhide II (dir. Liu Jiayin)

This will be the largest series of Chinese cinema in Chicago this year. The series is listed online at: http://docfilms.uchicago.edu/dev/calendar/2011/fall/monday.shtml (note that the opening night screening is not listed).

A Selection of Chinese Independent Cinema

Mondays, September 26 – November 28, 2011
Doc Films, University of Chicago
Max Palevsky Cinema in Ida Noyes Hall
The University of Chicago
1212 East 59th Street, Chicago, IL

Tickets $5, free with DocFilms season pass ($30)

Few national cinemas are as vibrant as that of contemporary China. Similarly, there are few places in the world today where art and media practice share such an important role in addressing national memory and societal issues. For these and other reasons, some of the most important work being made in China today is made by independent artists, with techniques that challenge the conventions and boundaries of both documentary and fiction film.

dGenerate Films (http://dgeneratefilms.com) stands as an important cultural pipeline, distributing independent cinema from mainland China within North America and Europe. This program intends to offer a sampling of the dGenerate catalogue, which contains many of the most important films produced in China within the last decade. These films reflect Chinese independent cinema in its broad diversity, social urgency, and creative innovation.

Full schedule after the break. (more…)

A Visit with “Red Collector” Liu Debao

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

"Red Collector" Liu Debao in his studio filled with vintage Mao memorabilia (photo: Shanghai Journal)

On his blog Shanghai Journal, Andrew Field reports on his encounter with Liu Debao, a Shanghai artist who has collected over 3,600 film reels from the Mao era. Field first heard about Liu from an interview with cinema scholar Chris Berry posted on our site. He visited Liu in his studio along with Ying Qian of Harvard, who is currently researching Mao era Chinese cinema. A full report of their visit can be found on Field’s blog.

Two films that are probably not in Liu’s collection, but are essential records of Mao era China, are Though I Am Gone and Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul, both directed by Hu Jie. Learn more about them in dGenerate’s catalog.

CinemaTalk: Chris Berry on Cultural Revolution Cinema

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Interviewed by Michael Chenkin

Chris Berry

Chris Berry is Professor of film and television studies at Goldsmiths University of London, and co-editor of the recent volume The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement: For the Public Record. Most recently he co-curated a special film series “A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire: The Cultural Revolution in the Cinemawith Katja Wiederspahn for the Film Archiv Austria, with the cooperation with the Museum für Völkerkunde (Ethnological Museum and the Film Archive Austria)in its special exhibition “The Culture of the Cultural Revolution.” We caught up with Professor Berry to learn more about the films and his experience in curating the series.

dGF: Has this exhibition changed your understanding of the Cultural Revolution and film? What were the major obstacles you faced in curating the exhibition at *Film Archiv Austria*?

Chris Berry: I guess my thinking about the Cultural Revolution was already changing along with a lot of other peoples’, and the process of putting together the series became part of that. I was very struck when I read the Tsinghua University professor and leading mainland public intellectual Professor Wang Hui’s comments in “Contemporary Chinese Thought and the Question of Modernity,” where he argued that the legitimacy of the entire contemporary Chinese political, social and cultural formation is built on the repudiation of the Cultural Revolution. Along with everyone else, I had taken that repudiation for granted for a long time and not gone much further. If today’s combination of neo-liberal economics and authoritarian politics needs a stereotype of the Cultural Revolution as a disastrous combination of the opposite — a command economy and anarchic politics — maybe that’s too simple. It’s not that I want to embrace the Cultural Revolution! But I think it made me realize that we need to decouple the Cultural Revolution from legitimization of the present to get a more complex understanding of it.

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Cinematalk: Interview with Ying Qian of Harvard

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

By Michael Chenkin

Ying Qian

Ying Qian is a PhD candidate in East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. Qian’s area of focus involves examining the evolving documentary visions in 20th century China. She is interested in the social processes and “film thinking” that have enabled and shaped the making of documentary images, and the ways in which these images have provided framings, interventions and agencies to historical change.

Recently, Qian co-organized a conference titled “Just Images: Ethics and Chinese Documentary” at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard. We spoke with Qian about the highlights of the conference as well as her ongoing research in Chinese documentary.

dGF: Could you give a brief overview of your research? What are your specific interests within the field of documentary film study?

Ying Qian: I’m writing a dissertation on the history of Chinese documentary since the Mao era. I also write about documentary practices in the Republican period in my introduction chapter. My interest in documentary cinema was initiated by encounters with contemporary independent documentary, and I used to make my own documentary films as well.

In my dissertation, I try to move the timeline further back. When talking about contemporary documentary, critics would point out that these films are very different from the official practices and especially from the documentary practices of an earlier era. New documentaries do not usually have a “Voice-of-God” commentary; they also have different approaches to conceptualize reality and deal with contingency in filmmaking. These observations are clearly true; though I think the division between the past and the present is not so binary. When one examines the documentary productions in the Mao-era seriously, one finds some important continuities despite many ruptures. I see documentary of the present as multiple responses to the end of the Mao-era.

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Ten Titles Now Available on Institutional DVD!

Monday, May 16th, 2011
We are pleased to announce the release of ten new titles on Institutional DVD, and the release of four titles on Home DVD. These titles include acclaimed festival films Ghost Town, 1428 and Disorder; probing environmental documentaries Before the Flood 1, Before the Flood 2 and Timber Gang (Last Lumberjacks), works by acclaimed social chronicler Shu Haolun, and landmark works by Hu Jie, one of China’s most important historical filmmakers.
A full list with descriptions can be found below; further details can be found on our online catalog. Buy them on Amazon or contact us directly.

Ghost Town (Fei Cheng)
directed by Zhao Dayong
Tucked away in a rugged corner of Southwest China, a village is haunted by traces of China’s cultural past while its residents piece together a day-by-day existence.

Disorder (Xianshi Shi Guoqu de Weilai)
directed by Huang Weikai
This one-of-a-kind news documentary captures, with remarkable freedom, the anarchy, violence, and seething anxiety animating China’s major cities today.

1428
directed by Du Haibin

This award-winning documentary of the earthquake that devastated China’s Sichuan province in 2008 explores how victims, citizens and government respond to a national tragedy.

Before the Flood 1 (Yan Mo)

directed by Li Yifan and Yan Yu
A landmark documentary following the residents of the historic city of Fengjie as they clash with officials forcing them to evacuate their homes to make way for the world’s largest dam.

Before the Flood 2 – Yong Tan (Yan Mo II- Gong Tan)
directed by Yan Yu
Yan Yu follows his groundbreaking documentary Before the Flood with this profile of the residents of Gongtan, a 1700-year-old village soon to be demolished by a hydroelectric dam project.

Timber Gang (aka Last Lumberjacks) (Mu Bang)
directed by Yu Guagnyi
Yu Guangyi’s stunning debut explores a grueling winter amongst loggers in Northeast China as they employ traditional practices through one last, fateful expedition.

Nostalgia (Xiang Chou)
directed by Shu Haolun
Acclaimed filmmaker Shu Haolun explores the rich culture and history of his Shanghai neighborhood upon its impending destruction.

Struggle (Zheng Zha)
directed by Shu Haolun
This powerful documentary explores the cruel realities of sweatshop labor and workplace injury in China, and one lawyer’s mission to defend worker’s rights.

Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul (Xun Zhao Lin Zhao De Ling Hun)
directed by Hu Jie
This landmark documentary reveals the tragic life of a gifted young woman who was executed for speaking out during the height of Chairman Mao’s rule.

Though I Am Gone
directed by Hu Jie
The tragic story of a teacher beaten to death by her students during the Cultural Revolution.

Profile of Activist Documentary Filmmaker Ai Xiaoming

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Filmmaker Ai Xiaoming filming sculpture by Yan Zhengxue (photo: Dan Edwards)

On his blog Screening China, Dan Edwards reports on his meeting with Ai Xiaoming, professor at Sun Yat Sen University and the maker of numerous investigative documentaries. In addition to interviewing Ai, Edwards has the special experience of following her at work, as she visits the home of dissident artist Yan Zhengxue, who was released from a three-year prison sentence in 2009. Edwards writes the following on Ai’s documentary filmmaking technique and philosophy:

I was impressed by how quickly Ai Xiaoming cut to the chase with her work, which seemingly relied on no preparation – she simply grabbed her camera and started rolling. It seems the camera for her is simply a tool – perhaps “a weapon” to quote another local filmmaker Ou Ning – which Ai Xiaoming uses to capture her subject’s testimonies. She appeared uninterested in questions of style or aesthetics. When I chatted to her later that night about the decade Zhao Liang spent filming the predicament of petitioners in Beijing for his documentary Petition, Ai Xiaoming commented that she could never spend so long on a project. “Our aim is to change things,” she said firmly, which I took to mean she prefers to get stories into the public domain as quickly as possible in order to try and effect change – or at least contribute to ongoing campaigns.

Yan Zhengxue's sculpture of Lin Zhao (photo: Dan Edwards)

Edwards also writes about Yan Zhengxue’s life and work, including the events leading to Yan’s arrest and an account of his near-death experience in prison. Attention is paid to a couple of sculptures of young women activists who were imprisoned and executed during the Cultural Revolution. One is Lin Zhao, who spent eight years in prison writing essays and poetry, using her own blood as ink. Lin Zhao is the subject of Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul, a documentary directed by Hu Jie, a frequent collaborator of Ai Xiaoming. The film investigates the suppressed history of Lin Zhao, a figure largely unknown to many Chinese but whose tragic life story is an inspiration to many activists today. Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul is considered a landmark in investigative documentary in China, especially in breaking the taboos of China’s recent past.

dGenerate is pleased to announce that it will be distributing three of Hu Jie’s films: Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul, Though I Am Gone, and East Wind Farm Camp (aka National East Wind Farm). All three films were included in “Sixty Years of Unsanctioned Memories in the People’s Republic,” a list of films dealing with forgotten or suppressed histories and marginal, dispossessed social groups in China. It is our hope that such important films, including Ai Xiaoming’s, will become more accessible to audiences around the world.