Posts Tagged ‘top ten’

Video: New Directions in Chinese Cinema

Monday, January 17th, 2011

By Kevin B. Lee

Let it be known that 2010 was an exceptional year for Chinese independent cinema.

Most media attention on Chinese cinema in 2010 was directed at its record-breaking domestic box-office receipts, led by blockbusters such as Feng Xiaogang’s Aftershock and If You Are the One 2. What hasn’t been reported enough is the abundance of excellent Chinese films to be found outside the mainstream cineplexes. Accessing these films is a challenge, to be sure; most have only been screened one or two times at small-scale independent film festivals in China. A lucky few have made it to international festivals; some have even won awards. Scattered over last year’s festival calendar, their appearances made resounding but isolated impressions – but taking them in all at once, the diversity and quality of these independent visions is staggering.

I originally wanted to write an article spotlighting my favorite Chinese independent films of 2010, but looking at the year’s bounty, it seems that the real story is in how richly differentiated Chinese independent cinema is becoming. Even a lesser film by objective standards of quality may offer an exciting new approach in subject or form. Such efforts to innovate may prove to be more vital to the development of cinema than the so-called masterpieces. In his provocative articles for dGenerate and elsewhere, Shelly Kraicer has repeatedly asked, “What Is Chinese Cinema?” He’s raised this question to challenge both international audiences and Chinese filmmakers on their assumptions and expectations on what Chinese films should be. No more succinctly does he make the point than in an essay from three years ago:


Best Chinese Language Films of the 2000s: Ballots

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

A list of the ballots from all 47 participants of the Best Chinese Language Films of the 2000s Poll follows after the break. Several participants included comments and/or honorable mentions, which are also included. Some participants ranked their choices while others left their list unranked; the final results were tallied by the number of mentions each film received among all top ten ballots.


Best Chinese-Language Films of the 2000s: Poll Results

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010


In the Mood for Love by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai topped the results of an international poll of the best Chinese-language films of the past decade, conducted by dGenerate Films. The poll included ballots from forty-seven filmmakers, critics, programmers and scholars from around the world. A total of 152 Chinese-language films were cited.

View the full list of ballots from all participants.

In the Mood for Love outpaced a field dominated by mainland Chinese titles, led by Wang Bing‘s seven-hour documentary West of the Tracks and Jia Zhangke‘s historical epic Platform. The two mainland titles are both independent productions made outside the official Chinese state system and have never officially screened in China. Yi Yi, by the late Taiwanese master Edward Yang finished fourth.

The top four titles were each mentioned in at least half of the forty-six ballots submitted by participants. Rounding out the top ten were Jia Zhangke’s Still Life at #5, Jiang Wen’s Devils on the Doorstep at #6, Liu Jiayin’s Oxhide, Lou Ye’s Summer Palace, and Jia Zhangke’s The World tied at #7, and Li Yang’s Blind Shaft and Ang Lee’s transnational blockbuster Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon tied at #9.

Jia Zhangke dominated among directors with seven films mentioned in the poll, three of which finished in the top ten. His films received nearly twice as many mentions as those of the second most-mentioned director, Wong Kar-wai. Works by Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang and Chinese director Lou Ye (who is officially banned from making films in China) also featured prominently in the results.

The results suggest a changing of the guard among mainland Chinese filmmakers over the past decade. The highest placing title by a Fifth Generation director was Zhang Yimou‘s Hero at #22. The eight mainland productions placing in the top eleven are from Sixth Generation directors such as Jia Zhangke or Lou Ye, or the post-Generational wave of digital filmmakers such as Wang Bing and Liu Jiayin. And yet, among these mainland films, only The World was approved by the state censors and released theatrically in mainland China.

Three of the top four films – In the Mood for Love, Yi Yi and Platform – have also placed prominently in polls conducted for all cinema of the past decade. The three films placed in the top ten of the Best of Decade Critics’ Poll run by IndieWire and in the top 11 of the poll run by Film Comment. But aside from Jia Zhangke’s films, the remaining titles on the list have fared poorly in these polls (West of the Tracks, #2 in this poll, places at #49 in IndieWire and #85 in Film Comment).

Oxhide, distributed non-theatrically in the U.S. by dGenerate Films, is the top ranking title by a female director. In addition to Oxhide, nine other dGenerate Films titles received mentions in the poll: Before the Flood (Li Yifan and Yan Yu); Betelnut (dir. Yang Heng); Crime and Punishment (Zhao Liang); Ghost Town (Zhao Dayong); Little Moth (Peng Tao); The Other Half (Ying Liang); Taking Father Home (Ying Liang); Timber Gang aka Last Lumberjacks (Yu Guangyi) and Using (Zhou Hao).

The full list of films, as well as top-ranking Chinese-language directors, can be found after the break. View the full list of ballots from all participants.


Best Chinese-Language Films of the 2000s: One Voter’s Thoughtful Ballot

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Betelnut (dir. Yang Heng)

In conducting the one-of-a-kind poll of the Best Chinese-Language Films of the 2000s, we received ballots from nearly 50 participants from around the world, including filmmakers, programmers, critics and other experts. One of our participants, Peter Rist, who teaches at the School of Cinema in Concordia University, sent a particularly lengthy account of his rationale for his selections, which we felt deserve an entry of their own. We’re also pleased that he considered both Betelnut by Yang Heng and Oxhide II by Liu Jiayin worthy of his final ten, since dGenerate distributes both Betelnut and the first Oxhide film and consider Yang Heng and Liu Jiayin among the most exceptional young talents working anywhere today.

Here is Peter’s list – his commentary follows after the break, as well as a list of his best films of the decade from around the world.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the full results of the poll, compiled from all of our participants!


Zhantai (Platform), Jia Zhangke (P.R. China/Hong Kong/France/Japan)
Suzhou he (Suzhou River), Lou Ye (China/Germany)
Fa yeung nin wa (In the Mood for Love), Wong Kar-wai (Hong Kong/France)
Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks, Wang Bing (China), documentary, digital
Cha ma gu dao xi lie (Delamu), Tian Zhuangzhuang (China/Japan), digital, doc.
McDull, Prince de la Bun, Toe Yuen (Hong Kong), animation
Zui hao de shi guang (Three Times), Hou Hsiao-hsien (Taiwan/France)
Hei yan quan (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone), Tsai Ming-liang
Binglang (Betelnut), Yang Heng (China), digital
Niu pi er (Oxhide II), Liu Jiayin (China), digital


Shelly’s Top Ten Mainland Chinese films of the 2000s

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Oxhide II (dir. Liu Jiayin)

Oxhide 2 (dir. Liu Jiayin)

On Wednesday, dGenerate Films will publish the results of its poll of Chinese filmmakers and experts on the top Chinese language films of the past decade. While the poll includes all Chinese language films, we’d like to take a moment to focus on films from Mainland China. Here are Shelly Kraicer’s top ten Mainland Chinese films of the 2000s, with some observations on key developments in the field over the past ten years. Shelly will give a slightly different list that includes all Chinese-language cinema for the official poll.


The editors of the dGenerate Films blog have asked me to come up with a list of the ten best Chinese films of the decade (2000-2009). I’ve thought about this for several days, and would prefer to call these the ten films from China that I consider to be the most important from the last ten years. This shifts the emphasis from “best”, from some difficult-do-objectify criterion of excellence to one of significance. Equally non-objective, to be sure, but I feel more comfortable with significance as a subjective criterion. This is for several reasons: one in particular is that “best” seems at least to imply a criterion of professional polish, of mastery, that I would not want to over-value while surveying recent Chinese film.

In fact, the key trend, if I can call it that, of the last decade of Chinese filmmaking seems to be precisely its de-professionalization. Filmmaking has moved beyond the academy, the Beijing Film Academy to be exact, responsible for so many filmmakers superbly trained in their crafts, and towards something much more broadly based and open, dominated by amateur digital filmmaking. These young, often self-trained filmmakers aren’t necessarily making the most well-crafted films out there, but their experiments are often among the most important things happening in cinema in this part of the world.

Rather than ranking films (which is sort of silly: what makes #6 better than #7?), I’d like to group my choices into three larger sets, as follows:


Ghost Town Ranks Among Top Undistributed Films

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Zhao Dayong’s Ghost Town has been named one of the Top Ten Undistributed Films of 2009, according to a poll of over 100 film critics run by IndieWire. The film placed highly among other works that have yet to secure a theatrical release in the US. The list films by renowned directors such as Claire Denis’ White Material, Pedro Costa’s Ne change rien, Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers, and Eccentricities of a Blond Hair Girl by the 100 year old master Manoel de Oliveira.

All of the above-mentioned titles screened at the 2009 New York Film Festival, where Ghost Town received widespread acclaim. Dennis Lim of the Moving Image Source wrote: “Ghost Town is one of the most surprising and rewarding films I’ve seen all year, one of the most important films to have emerged from the booming (but still underexplored) field of Chinese independent documentaries.” LA Weekly film editor Scott Foundas exclaimed: “I didn’t think there was another Jia Zhangke or Wang Bing lurking out there, but it turns out there is!”

dGenerate Films is the sales representative for Ghost Town. For U.S. sales, including television, home video and non-theatrical exhibition, please contact us.

More information about the film can be found here.

View the trailer for Ghost Town:

dGenerate Titles Included in Top Films Lists

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Nice to see that some of our films are being recognized by some of the Best Films of the Year/Decade lists being released.

Film Comment has named Zhao Dayong’s Ghost Town as one of the top twenty unreleased films of the year. And Neil Young’s Film Lounge named Ying Liang films’ The Other Half and Taking Father Home two of the best foreign films of the decade.

Not to be excluded from all the fun, we will be releasing soon results from the dGenerate Films’ Top Chinese Films of the Decade poll. Stay tuned!