Posts Tagged ‘super girls’

Jian Yi’s Award-Winning Bamboo Shoots screening this week in Toronto

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Bamboo Shoots (dir. Jian Yi)

Jian Yi, whose documentary Super, Girls! was one of the first films in the dGenerate catalog, is screening his narrative debut feature Bamboo Shoots at The Projection Booth in Toronto now until Thursday September 1. Winner of Best Feature Film at the Montreal World Cinema Festival, the release has garnered substantial press. Some excerpts:

A hastily packed prophylactic is this gentle Chinese satire, about a small-town peasant trying to spare his community embarrassment: the offending condom was stuck in a box of bamboo shoots being sent as a gift to town officials… The slow, deliberate style works well for the material. – Metro

“The best thing that could happen when someone misplaces a condom (aside from pregnancy?) is this kind of serious but light, absurd but naturalistic story.” – The National Post

“A dry and surprisingly sharp satire about people finding ways to scrabble along, from the city to the country, in the bizarre hybrid state/free-market that now exists in China.” – The Toronto Sun

The small observational moments and fleeting characters can be funny in isolation, but taken as a whole the film feels soul-crushingly bleak, the mark of effective satire.” – Now Toronto

How American Idol Introduced Democracy and Tomboys to China

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Over at Fandor, our own Kevin Lee has a piece on Jian Yi’s Super, Girls!, coinciding with the finale of American Idol Season 10, airing tonight and tomorrow. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Super Girl (once officially known as the Mongolian Cow Yoghurt Super Girl Contest, after its brand sponsor) launched in 2004, just a couple years after Pop Idol and American Idol. Originally a local TV production, the show took advantage of a newly formed nationwide satellite network to broadcast across China, and quickly became a runaway success. By its third season the show drew over 400 million viewers, exceeding not just the total number of American Idol viewers, but the entire US population. Whether due to this alarming display of voter mobilization or the runaway popularity of a show that glorified pop idolatry, the Chinese government shut down the show after three seasons (though it has since been revived).


Changing Times for Queer Lives in China

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Lesbian wedding in China (Photo from

by Isabella Tianzi Cai

In a “Letter from China” column for the New York Times on September 1, 2010, Howard W. French elaborates on China’s changing attitude towards queer culture based on his personal observations in Shanghai. Having worked and lived in Shanghai for just under a decade, French is well aware of Chinese people’s increasing psychological tolerance towards homosexuals in their midst.

French says that it is most evident in “public intimacy between women,” which he supports in the letter by recounting a few of his personal experiences, most memorably, witnessing two teenage girls kissing passionately in a Shanghai subway car, without regard for the older passengers watching them with consternation. It should be noted that this incident is without precedent; a similar event in 2008 was captured on video and created a stir when posted on the internet.

French offers his understanding of this social phenomenon:

As this society rapidly grows richer, its social fabric and mores have been changing in ways far more dramatic than even the physical landscape, and sexual choice and expression are arguably in the leading edge of this upheaval.

Although this trend, as articulated by French, is more or less inevitable, the transition from a conservative society to a liberal one is neither as easy or as fast as he makes it out to be.


Video: Jian Yi Speaks to Soros Foundation / Open Society Institute

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Jian Yi (Photo by Christopher Capozziello for the Open Society Institute)

Next week, we’ll post the second of our video interviews produced from the “Meet the Filmmakers” series held in Feburary 2010 at the Apple Store in Sanlitun, Beijing. The video will feature Jian Yi, one of the most accomplished and ambitious independent filmmakers working in China today. Jian Yi directed the critically acclaimed films Super, Girls! and Bamboo Shoots, and co-directed the groundbreaking China Village Documentary Project, in which ordinary villagers from across China used video cameras to record the changing rural dynamics in their home villages. He is also the founder of the Participatory Documentary Center at Jinggangshan University and Original Studio, one of the nations first innovative community art centers. His documentaries and feature films, which reveal the social and cultural tensions of contemporary China, have won international awards and are shown worldwide.

Jian is also the founder of IFCHINA, a pioneering NGO that helps ordinary citizens in small and medium-sized Chinese cities document their own lives through videography, theater, and photography. Provincial communities are losing collective memory as residents migrate to the coastal metropolises in search of work. Jian Yi believes that video technology can preserve that memory, while stimulating a sense of civic engagement and strengthening shared values. He is currently working to seed a project in Ji’an City, the cradle of the communist revolution and the major pilgrimage site for Maoists across China.

Jian Yi’s work led him to receive a prestigious fellowship with the Open Society Institute, funded by the Soros Foundation. The OSI posted this brief video with Jian Yi, speaking in English about his work. It’s a nice preview to the more lengthy interview that we will be posting next week.

The Potential (and Perils) of Online Video for the d-Generation

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Super, Girls! (dir. Jian Yi)

This recent article on CNN caught our eye, as it deals with what may be an emerging next wave of the digital filmmaking in China we at dGenerate heartily support. The article cites the explosion of user generated content on Chinese video sites like Youku and Tudou, which one analyst describes as “An unleashing of creativity like the world has never seen.”

Here’s the skinny from the article:

While the bulk of the content on popular Chinese video sites consists of domestic and foreign movies and television programs, a growing share of material is coming from Chinese who are picking up cameras, filming the world around them and sharing it with others for the very first time.

This may not seem extraordinary elsewhere, yet the growth of user-generated content represents a major shift in the way China watches itself and the way the world watches China.

That last line resonates a lot with the mission of China’s dGeneration of filmmakers; thanks to the accessibility of digital video and their own mission to document issues that couldn’t pass through state censorship, these filmmakers brought a radical new element to China’s art and media landscape. However, the ongoing challenge for these filmmakers has been to break out of a small, relatively confined circuit of underground festivals and other distribution channels in China, so that a greater audience can access these films and the important stories they uncover.


SUPER, GIRLS! and Director JIAN Yi at China Institute!

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

super_girls-thumbIn collaboration with dGenerate Films, the China Institute in America (125 East 65th Street) will present dGenerate title Super, Girls! (Chao Ji Nu Sheng) on Saturday, October 24, at 4:30 pm, as part of the Sinomathèque Film Series. An open discussion with director JIAN Yi will follow the screening.

Super, Girls! follows ten female teenagers on their quest to become instant superstars through the “Super Girls Singing Contest,” the wildly popular Chinese version of the “American Idol.” Discussing his unusual subject matter among Chinese indies, director Jian says in the “Director’s Statement”:

“Mainstream life is fairly underrepresented in independent Chinese documentaries as filmmakers tend to focus more on the society’s underprivileged groups. Yet ‘mainstream’ life in fast changing societies like China’s can be as different as Red Guards in 1960s, poets in 1980s, businessmen in 1990s and the ‘Super-girls’ in 2000s. What are the values of the family’s-only-child generation? How do they release their tremendous extra energy and money and embrace a globalized culture? China should not be just the playground for banks and corporations. China’s new generation of independent filmmakers look into the present-day mainstream culture and document and scrutinize this crazy and confusing time of the nation’s history.”

The Sinomathèque is an ongoing film series at the China Institute that showcases contemporary and historical work of every genre originating from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

For more information, visit the China Institute.

For further information, please contact or 212-744-8181×150.

Jian Yi to Show New Documentary at Yale

Monday, September 14th, 2009

dGenerate director Jian Yi (Super, Girls!) is to screen his new work New Socialist Climax (Hong Se Zhi Lü) at the Auditorium of Henry R. Luce Hall, Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut on Thursday, September 17 at 8pm. This special screening is in coordination with the international conference on “Culture, Conflict & Mediation” sponsored by Yale, Cambridge and Qinghua Universities (September 17-19, 2009). A Q&A session with the director will follow.


American Idol as… Underground Cinema?

Monday, September 7th, 2009
Jian Yi filming Super, Girls!

Jian Yi behind the scenes of Super, Girls!

Recent d(igital)-generation films are considered “underground” not only due to subject matter. More often than not their production methodology helps define their independence. This is part of a series looking behind the scenes of Digital Underground in the People’s Republic.

It’s true that one standing trope of “underground” Chinese films is a fascination with life on the margins. These are the folks who don’t get any screen time in glossy studio pics – ethnic populations, village life, orphans, petty criminals, drug addicts, homeless migrants, and the list goes on. So it’s more than a little surprising to come across an underground film that takes ten average Chinese female teenagers as its subject. Add to that the inclusion of the wildly popular Chinese version of American Idol, and the choice of subject matter is even more startling.

But this is exactly what Jian Yi, director of the documentary Super, Girls!, did. He figured that the margins weren’t the only populations ignored in mainstream cinema. So Jian Yi picked up his digital camera and, without authorization from the Chinese government or the sponsoring television station for that matter, headed down to the regional auditions for the television contest Super Girl.


A “Brighter” Future

Thursday, August 6th, 2009
Ten Thousand Pig Farm, Jiangxi, Photo courtesy of Brighter Green

Ten Thousand Pig Farm, Jiangxi (Photo courtesy of Brighter Green)

We’re excited to announce a new partnership with environmental policy organization Brighter Green on the production of their documentary Meat World, which explores the impact of meat and dairy consumption on developing countries like China. This marks the beginning of a new chapter for dGenerate Films. Increasing inquiries from American producers have led us to start offering co-producing and consulting services for documentary and fiction films interested in filming in China.

We’ve been fortunate throughout the short life of our business to develop extensive ties and strong relationships to the best and brightest of the independent Chinese filmmaking community, as well as an insider’s understanding of how the film business works there. For Meat World, we’ve connected Super, Girls! director Jian Yi with Brighter Green to helm the project and have been supervising the pre-production and production process in Beijing, Jiangxi, and Guangzhou. Early feedback has it that the footage is remarkable and transformed the Chinese crew into vegetarians by day three of the shoot!

Check out this enlightening blog post by Brighter Green’s Mia MacDonald on the Meat World project.

Any productions in search of location assistance, crew, talent, producing partners, or anything production-related in China, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to explore ways to work with you while continuing to support truly independent filmmaking in China.

Shelly on Film: Between the Cracks of Capitalist China

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

By Shelly Kraicer

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

It’s always an interesting time to be in China, a place seemingly without uninteresting times. To be here now, though, lets you see a singular moment in society floating, unpinned, somewhere in between two bankrupt ruling ideologies. The collapse of official Communism/Maoism/Socialism with Chinese characteristics, as the ruling thinking evolved from pre-Liberation through the Cultural Revolution to post-Mao Dengism, is the keynote for lots of standard accounts of China today.

Traditional Chinese culture was, for a time, obliterated by various more or less radical and institutional versions of leftist ideology. These slowly disappeared in fact, though the rote sloganeering formulas persist, especially around the “liang hui” or annual meeting of the Chinese government’s legislative bodies, that took place in the spring. Following Deng Xiaoping’s reforms, and the unbridled embrace of wealth-concentration and manifest corruption in the Jiang Zemin era, the new god became capitalism, in its rawest, unregulated forms. Free market ideology imported from its Western exponents has washed over China, pushing some groups and regions ahead, leaving millions in the interior and the countryside, behind. Now that financial market capitalism is having its own profound existential crisis in the West, does China have to think about tossing out its brand new ruling ideology, right on top of the refuse of the old one? It’s enough to cause a case of ideological whiplash.

What happens when an unstable society starts to face the possibility that its hot new set of ideological nostrums might be just as insubstantial as those it has just recently thrown over? It must be a dizzying sort of disorientation for those Chinese who have invested their new identities in the new ways of thinking.