Posts Tagged ‘street life’

Tragic Deaths and Media Cover-Ups, from 1994 to Today

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

Earlier this month, the story of a dead Chinese college student circulated the Internet under close monitoring by Chinese press authorities. The 23-year-old man, Zhao Wei, was a college student making his way home by train. He traded his seat with a passenger in another car so as to stay close with his friend. Somewhere during this exchange, he got on the bad side of his train conductor. He was led away by railway police and mysteriously died.

An initial autopsy report ruled that Zhao’s death was due to his jumping off the train. His body suffered many injuries, with signs also showing that he had been handcuffed. Unconvinced by the findings, Zhao’s bereft parents have been trying to petition the authorities to investigate further. As stated by official Chinese news channels, the case will be properly handled by the railway police, which, ironically, may have also caused the death.

(more…)

Profile of Zhao Dayong, Director of Ghost Town and Street Life

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Zhao Dayong, director of Street Life and Ghost Town

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

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

In the Global Times, Chris Hawke (Hao Ying) highlights director Zhao Dayong‘s filmmaking career and three of his documentaries. The article is occasioned by the screening of Zhao’s Street Life (2006) and Ghost Town (2008) at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing.

Street Life and Ghost Town, both available through the dGenerate catalog, have received international recognition in the festival circuit, and continue to garner praise from film critics from around the world. With regard to Street Life, Hawke writes,

Zhao explores how the poorest of the poor prey on each other, and draws parallels and allusions to the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West.

This point is reaffirmed by Zhao: (more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

ArtForum Reviews Films by Zhao Dayong at Flaherty Film Seminar

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Street Life (dir. Zhao Dayong)

The Flaherty Film Seminar, a private, weeklong series of screenings and talks with filmmakers, scholars and enthusiasts, concluded another annual edition last month. This year’s Seminar was curated by film critic Dennis Lim with the guiding theme of “Work”. Chinese filmmaker Zhao Dayong attended the seminar, presenting his first two feature films: Street Life and Ghost Town, both distributed by dGenerate.

In ArtForum, Nicholas Rapold points out several highlights of the Seminar, including Zhao Dayong’s films:

Zhao Dayong‘s lauded Ghost Town (2009) conjures a marginal community in the provinces – a former Communist workers’ village perched in the mountains. Its unification of artistry (Zhao trained as an oil painter) with social portraiture made the centrally placed film a capstone to the week’s percolating dialogue on how work forges identity. Accordingly, Zhao’s embedded look at the Shanghai homeless, Street Life (2006), offered a fascinating vision of unmade man: a prolonged finale showing one of the subjects (recently beaten by police) engaged in demented Situationist crumping in a public square under a Jumbotron.

The full article can be accessed at ArtForum.

Video: Interview with Zhao Dayong on his new film The High Life

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Danwei.org interviews Zhao Dayong, Chinese independent filmmaker and director of Street Life and Ghost Town (both distributed by dGenerate). Zhao’s latest feature film The High Life premiered at this year’s Hong Kong International Film Festival. In this interview Zhao introduces these films, as well as his documentary My Father’s House and experimental feature Rough Poetry. More information about Zhao and his work is available on his website Lanternfilms. Video also on Tudou.

Three dGenerate Directors Win at Hong Kong Film Festival

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Awards ceremony at Hong Kong International Film Festival (photo courtesy Lantern Films)

The Hong Kong International Film Festival gave out its awards Tuesday night, and to our delight, four of the nine awards were given to filmmakers repped by dGenerate. Yang Heng (director of Betelnut) took home the Golden Digital Award in the Asian Digital Competition for his new film Sun Spots, while Zhao Liang (Crime and Punishment) won the Humanitarian Award for his stunning documentary Petition. But the night belonged to Zhao Dayong (Ghost Town, Street Life), whose new film The High Life nabbed two awards – the FIRPRESCI Critics’ Jury Prize and the Silver Award in the Asian Digital Competition.

Full coverage of the awards can be found at The Hollywood Reporter.

See if you can catch Zhao Dayong’s previous feature Ghost Town, which is touring the US through April at these venues. Read some reviews of this film.

Yang Heng’s previous feature Betelnut is available at dGenerate Films. Find out more about his prizewinning debut.

Zhao Liang’s eye-opening documentary Crime and Punishment is currently available for non-theatrical exhibition, and will be available on DVD in the summer.