Posts Tagged ‘ying liang’

Shelly on Film: The Use and Abuse of Chinese Cinema, Part Two

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

By Shelly Kraicer

This is the conclusion of Shelly Kraicer’s essay “The Use and Abuse of Chinese Cinema (in the West).” Click here for the introduction and first half of the essay.

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Oxhide 2 (dir. Liu Jiayin)

4. Exemplary Asian independent art cinema. This misreading has something in common with Number 1 (“Exotic, colorful diversion”) , but in a more rarified, sophisticated form. It also contradicts (but exists in a weird sort of symbiosis with) Number 5 below. There is supposed to be something essentially “Asian” (meaning usually East Asian) about the predominant mode of contemporary art cinema now celebrated in festivals worldwide. Films that convey China’s backwardness (see Number 6 below) often employ a Andre Bazin-influenced mise en scène that is post-realist in its effect. Long takes, a demandingly slow pace, opaque storytelling, a distant motionless camera, inexpressive, non-professional actors, lots and lots of visual and narrative blankness, emptiness, stillness. Examples abound, the best recent exponents being Yang Heng (Betelnut, Sun Spots), Yang Rui (Crossing the Mountain), and in her own inimitable way, Liu Jiayin (Oxhide and Oxhide 2).

This analysis reduces an often surprising diversity of film styles into something that is assumed to spring, essentially and almost automatically, from a specific historical and cultural background, with local visual and pictorial traditions transmuted directly into their filmic correlatives. This in a sense over-simplifies and over-particularizes Chinese filmmakers who are utterly fluent (more than most of us) in the world-cinema image market (you can easily find films from everywhere, from every era, in China’s wonderfully eclectic bootleg DVD shops). By insisting on the “Chinese-ness” of these films, a special understanding, a privileged access to the films’ “essences,” may reserved for Sinological experts.

5. International art cinema master(s’) works. On the other hand, it’s just as easy to abuse Chinese cinema as some sort of proof that master directors work in a universal style recognizalbe to experts, critics, professionals, and well-trained festival audiences. In absolute contradistinction to Number 4 above, this attitude says “you don’t need to know anything about China and its specific cultural history to appreciate these films. They are great cinema, full stop”. This can be a branding exercise, like Number 2 (“Commercial entertainment”), but one for a more discriminating audience who needs to be reassured that she or he will be able to enjoy the latest Chinese masterpiece without unduly stressing over its foreignness. This is global art, i.e. It belongs to “Us,” not to its incidentally “Other” creators. Hegemony reasserts itself as art / film criticism, denaturing a film for our appropriation and viewing pleasure (with emphasis on the pleasure). This tendency can be seen in the flattering (for a forty-year-old director) inclusion of the latest Jia Zhangke film I Wish I Knew in the “Masters” section of the Toronto International Film Festival programme.

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Xu Tong’s FORTUNE TELLER wins NETPAC Award

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Xu Tong accepts the NETPAC award at the Chongqing Independent Film and Video Festival

By Isabella Tianzi Cai

At the 4th Chongqing Independent Film and Video Festival this year, Xu Tong’s Fortune Teller won the NETPAC Award for the Best Feature-length Film. Ten films were nominated for this category; they included Liu Jiayin’s Oxhide 2 (distributed by dGenerate Films) and Qiu Jiongjiong’s Madame.

The 2010 CIFVF was presented in partnership with Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC), a regional organization formed in 1990 for the recognition and development of Asian films. Over the past two decades, NETPAC has made many valuable contributions to Asian cinema. The institution of the NETPAC Award, for instance, is one of them. As of the present, the NETPAC Award is offered at 28 film festivals in 21 countries. It is stated on their website that “as more Asian films were selected for exhibition for world audiences, a yardstick for quality . . . that matched the competitive spirit fueling the creative urges of young Asian filmmakers” was necessary.

Roughly 130 people came for the screening of Fortune Teller in the 2010 CIFVF and attended the Q&A session with Xu Tong afterwards. CIFVF organizer Ying Liang, whose features Taking Father Home and The Other Half are distributed by dGenerate, was the moderator for the event. (Report in Chinese at Liang You)

CinemaTalk: Conversation with Ying Liang at the Beijing Apple Store

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Director Ying Liang

Director Ying Liang was interviewed at the Apple Store Sanlitun Beijing, as part of the “Meet the Filmmakers” series, co-presented by the Apple Store in Beijing and dGenerate Films, an ongoing series to showcase China’s newest filmmakers powered by digital technology.

Ying Liang graduated from the Department of Directing at the Chongqing Film Academy and Beijing Normal University. He directed his first feature film,Taking Father Home (2005), which won awards at the Tokyo Filmex Film Festival, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, and the San Francisco International Film Festival. In 2006, Ying made The Other Half (2006), which is supported by the Hubert Bals Fund (HBF) from the International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film also won the Special Jury Prize at the Tokyo Filmex Film Festival.

The video of Ying’s interview is in three parts, with an English transcript following each video. Video of Part One is below. Click through to view both videos and the full transcript. Interview conducted by Gigi Zhang. Videography by Michael Cheng. English transcription and subtitles by Isabella Tianzi Cai.

Note: English subtitles for each video can be accessed by clicking on the CC button in the pop-up menu on the bottom right corner of the player. The subtitles can be repositioned anywhere on the screen by clicking on them (if they are not displaying properly, click them to adjust).

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CIFF Awards Announced; Zhang Xianmin Interviewed

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Poster for The Old Donkey (dir. Li Ruijun)

The Seventh China Independent Film Festival concluded in Nanjing on October 25, with awards given to the following narrative feature films:

First Prize: The Old Donkey, dir. Li Ruijun
Second Prize: Rivers and My Father, dir. Li Luo
Debut Prize: Piercing, dir. Liu Jian

Special Mentions:
Single Man, dir. Hao Jie
Cleaning, dir. Yuan Fei

Additionally, the following films were screened as part of the CIFF Top 10 Documentaries program:

Xue Jianqiang: Martian Syndrome
Zhang Zanbo: A Song of Love, Maybe
Qiu Jiongjiong: Madame
Mao Chenyu: Triumph of the Will
Guo Xiaolu: Once Upon a Time Proletarian
Chen Xinzhong: Zhong Sheng
Wang Qingren: Game Theory
Yang Yishu: On the Road
Zhou Hao: Cop Shop
Li Ning: Tape

CIFF organizer (and dGenerate consultant) Zhang Xianmin discusses the Festival with Christen Cornell for Artspace China.

Shelly on Film: Deeper Into Dragons and Tigers

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

By Shelly Kraicer

Rumination (dir. Xu Ruotao)

The 2010 Vancouver International Film Festival (September 30 to October 15) has just concluded. This was my fourth year programming Chinese language films for VIFF’s Dragons and Tigers section for East Asian cinema; this year’s edition featured 43 features and 21 shorts, co-curated by Tony Rayns and myself. I selected 19 features and three shorts: 12 from China, 4 from Hong Kong, 3 from Taiwan, 2 from Malaysia, and one from Singapore. Details of the films from the People’s Republic of China, including comments derived from my catalogue notes for VIFF, can be found below.

Within the D&T section, the Dragons and Tigers Award for Young Cinema, programmed by Tony Rayns, featured 8 films by young, as yet “undiscovered” directors. The jury, comprised of Jia Zhangke, Bong Joon-ho, and Denis Côté, awarded its prize to the Japanese film Good Morning World!, directed by Hirohara Satoru. Two special mentions were awarded: one to the Chinese film Rumination (Fanchu), by Xu Ruotao, and one to Phan Dang Di’s Vietnamese film Don’t Be Afraid B!

As usual, I chose more films from China than from any other territory. I try each year to balance at least two goals in my programming: I want to give VIFF audiences a sense of the increasing variety of Chinese language filmmaking, both in the independent sector, and in commercial genres. At the same time, it has always been VIFF’s policy and my own personal preference to highlight the work of independent young filmmakers working outside of the system of official censorship and distribution (independent tizhiwai films). Indie documentary filmmaking continues to be particularly strong in China, and I could only choose a few examples: it would have been easy to devote the bulk of my 9 feature length film slots to Chinese independent films this year.

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dGenerate’s Films and Filmmakers Showcased in Get It Louder Series

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010
by Sara Beretta
Get It Louder (Da Sheng Zhan), one of China’s hottest showcases for emerging creative talent, opened in Beijing last September 19th, and will run through October 10th before moving to Shanghai (Oct. 22nd – Nov. 7th).
Presented by China’s Modern Media Group with its contemporary culture magazine, The Outlook, and organized by the Beijing-based Shao Foundation, 2010′s edition of Get It Louder is curated by Ou Ning (who founded the event in 2005) and a six-member curatorial team, including Ying Liang, director of The Other Half.
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A Tour of China’s Only Independent Film School

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Li Xianting Film School's Ying Liang (left) and Zhu Rikun (right) with owner and daughter of their favorite restaurant in Songzhuang (photo by Gertjan Zuilhof)

Last month we reported that the International Film Festival Rotterdam launched “Raiding Africa,” an exciting program commissioning several African filmmakers to make new films in China. The IFFR enlisted the Li Xianting Film School to help initiate the African directors into the Chinese independent film scene. Located in Songzhuang on the outskirts of Beijing, Li Xianting Film School is the first film school for independent filmmakers in China,.

IFFR’s Gertjan Zuilhof, the organizer of the program, is providing ongoing updates on the project at his IFFR blog. His latest entry introduces the Li Xianting Film School, where important figures like Zhu Rikun and Ying Liang (whose films dGenerate distributes) are fostering the independent film movement in China through their screenings, events and educational programs.

We’ve visited Songzhuang on multiple occasions, and we’ve always meant to profile the Li Xianting Film School in depth (the closest we’ve come is Shelly Kraicer’s indispensible guide to the Chinese indie film scene). So it’s great that Zuilhof is bringing exposure to the Film School through both the Raiding Africa program and his blog. And it’s amusing to read Zuilhof’s observations on Songzhuang, a former farming town that has become a haven for Beijing artists, and has traded its acres of fields for newly-built galleries. Zuilhof quips: “They make modern art museums here like they are pizza huts.”

Indie Filmmakers Featured in Time Out Shanghai

Monday, June 7th, 2010

The newest issue of Time Out Shanghai (English edition) has a five-page cover feature spotlighting the new generation of independent digital filmmakers. The article singles out seven “directors to watch” whom the magazine playfully dubs “The Magnificent Seven:” Ying Liang, Yang Heng, Zhao Liang, Zhao Ye, Zhao Dayong, Liu Jiayin and Wei Tie. All seven are interviewed, as is dGenerate Films’ president Karin Chien.

The feature is not available online, but we’ve secured permission to make it available as a downloadable .pdf on the dGenerate website. You can download the feature here. Thanks to Nicola Davison at Time Out Shanghai.

dGenerate Films is the proud distributor of films from five of the “Magnificent Seven.” Learn more about their films by clicking on the following titles:

Liu Jiayin: Oxhide

Ying Liang: Taking Father Home; The Other Half

Yang Heng: Betelnut

Zhao Liang: Crime and Punishment

Zhao Dayong: Ghost Town


MEET THE FILMMAKERS: Ying Liang at Apple Store Beijing

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Ying Liang

dGenerate Films and the Apple Store in Beijing continue their ongoing series showcasing China’s newest filmmakers powered by digital technology. This Thursday, April 21, acclaimed digital filmmaker Ying Liang will show clips from his films and discuss his creative process.

Ying Liang’s talk is part of the series “Meet the Filmmakers,” a collaboration between the Apple Store in Beijing and dGenerate Films. Digital tools, from digital video cameras to editing software, have placed filmmaking in the hands of the people. This series introduces award-winning directors discuss with the general public how they use digital technology to create their latest movies, attracting worldwide attention and acclaim.

Read news coverage of the inaugural “Meet the Filmmakers” events, and watch video from a previous Apple Store talk with filmmaker and activist Cui Zi’en.

All events will be held at the Apple Store in Sanlitun, Beijing, starting at 7pm.

Ying Liang graduated from the Department of Directing at the Chongqing Film Academy and Beijing Normal University. He directed his first feature film, Taking Father Home (2005), which won awards at the Tokyo Filmex Film Festival, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, and the San Francisco International Film Festival. In 2006, Ying made The Other Half (2006), which is supported by the Hubert Bals Fund (HBF) from the International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film also won the Special Jury Prize at the Tokyo Filmex Film Festival. Ying Liang’s latest film Good Cats (2008) premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Shelly on Film: The Twenty Minute Standout of Rotterdam

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

by Shelly Kraicer

Condolences (dir. Ying Liang)

I’ve always enjoyed attending the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), which perks up a dark and sleety Dutch mid-winter with what is quite possibly the world’s most creatively curated large-scale festival of art and experimental cinema. IFFR has always strongly supported Chinese language independent films. And films in Chinese usually do quite well there, having won the top prize, the Tiger Award, quite often in past few years (Flower in the Pocket, Malaysia, 2008; Love Conquers All, Malaysia, 2007; Walking on the Wild Side, 2006, China; The Missing, Taiwan, 2004; Suzhou River, China, 2000).

Even if this year’s lineup of new Chinese films might have been a bit less scintillating than usual (though standouts included Yang Heng’s Sun Spots in competition, Liu Jiayin’s Oxhide II, Lou Ye’s Spring Fever, and Xu Tong’s documentary Wheat Harvest), one short stood out: Ying Liang’s Condolences (Weiwen). And the IFFR jury recognized this: Condolences won one of three Tiger Awards for Short Film. It’s a particularly well-deserved prize, in my opinion: this 20 minute fiction short of Ying Liang’s is this gifted young Chinese director’s best work so far.

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