Taiwan’s lost commercial cinema–cfp

CFP: Taiwan’s Lost Commercial Cinema: Recovered and Restored

Did you know regular filmmaking on Taiwan only started in the 1950s? With a Taiwanese-language film industry? Between then and the 1970s, 1000+ Taiwanese-language features were made. However, the budgets were miniscule, the companies short-lived, and there was no archive. They were quickly forgotten, and only 200+ survive. However, with the establishment of the Chinese Taipei Film Archive in 1979 and the end of martial law in 1987, Taiwanese-language cinema of the 1950s–1970s, once seen as a disposable entertainment, is now being revalued as an art form and window on old Taiwan, and new scholarship is revealing more complex dimensions of the phenomenon.

We are pleased to announce that Journal of Chinese Cinemas has agreed to our proposal to submit a dossier of articles for consideration as a special section or issue of the journal. To be considered for inclusion, please submit your 200-300 word abstract to us (chris.berry@kcl.ac.uk and mytrawnsley@gmail.com) by 31 January 2018. If accepted, the deadline for submission of the full draft essay will be 30 April 2018, and we will be submitting the dossier to Journal of Chinese Cinemas during the summer of 2018.

Chris Berry and Ming-Yeh Rawnsley

Professor Chris Berry
Dept. of Film Studies
King’s College London
Strand, London

Taiwanese cinema year in review

Source: Taipei Times (12/28/17)
Year in Review: Taiwanese Cinema
By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Blue Lan, left, and Chu Ko Liang play a father and son in Hanky Panky. Chu died in May at the age of 70. Photo courtesy of Hualien Media

Suffering through a number of terrible local movies throughout the year makes the good ones truly worth it. Three favorites in particular come to mind — but first, let’s pay tribute to Chu Ko Liang (豬哥亮), the legendary and often crass Taiwanese entertainer who died at 70 years old in May.

Liang’s sixth-straight and unfortunately his final Lunar New Year blockbuster Hanky Panky (大釣哥) continues his over-the-top act with plenty of melodrama and his trademark bathroom humor, although he does rein in the weirdness at times for some surprisngly emotional scenes. The resulting product is an unspectacular yet solid Liang-style comedy with a decent storyline and a surprising amount of chuckles, which was exactly what people are looking for in a holiday blockbuster. Liang should not be remembered as a fool just because of his bumbling on-screen persona. There’s a reason he was been able to stay relevant despite pulling the same old tricks decade after decade. He knew how to tell a story, and most importantly, he knew how to make fun of himself — which is where most other Taiwanese screwball comedies fall short. Continue reading

Dhondup Wangchen flees to US

Source: NYT (12/28/17)
Tibetan Filmmaker Flees to U.S. After ‘Arduous’ Escape from China
查看简体中文版 | 查看繁體中文版

Protesters demanding the release of the Tibetan movie director Dhondup Wangchen protest outside the Chinese embassy in Tokyo in 2009. Credit Toshifumi Kitamura/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A prominent Tibetan filmmaker, who was jailed for making a documentary about Tibetans living under Chinese rule and had been under police surveillance since his release three years ago, has fled to the United States after an “arduous and risky escape” from China, according to his supporters.

Dhondup Wangchen, 43, arrived in San Francisco on Dec. 25 and was reunited with his wife and children, who were granted political asylum in the United States in 2012, according to Filming for Tibet, a group set up by Mr. Wangchen’s cousin to push for his release. Continue reading

Hua Yong detained and released on bail

Source: Sup China (12/18/17)
Artist who filmed Beijing eviction aftermath detained, then released on bail
By Lucas Niewenhuis

Hua Yong 华涌, the artist who documented the destruction and social turmoil that resulted from Beijing’s migrant evictions, had quite the weekend.

  • He made it out of Beijing to Tianjin, where he filmed several tense videos in which he says that police “have arrived” at his door (he also records banging on his door and himself speaking with the people) and an emotional video in which he sings “Happy Birthday” to his three-year-old daughter and wishes that China could be “just, fair, free, democratic and have freedom of speech.”
  • Police detained him for “gathering a crowd to disrupt traffic,” his friends told the AFP, but then released him on bail.
  • The New York Times notes (paywall) that his form of bail “allows the police to continue investigating for up to a year,” and that though he likely won’t face charges, he “can be monitored and face restrictions on his ability to travel and speak publicly.”
  • Hua is now far away from Beijing in Chengdu, the capital city of southwestern Sichuan Province, where his daughter lives, a friend said.

Artist flees Beijing after filming mass evictions

To view the accompanying video clips, go to the NYT link.–Kirk

Source: NYT (12/13/17)
Artist Flees Beijing After Filming Devastation of Mass Evictions

HONG KONG — When Hua Yong, a painter in Beijing, first witnessed the eviction of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from the Chinese capital last month, he worried no one would believe the scope of it.

After a deadly fire in November, Beijing officials introduced an aggressive campaign to tear down apartment buildings and evict migrants from poorer sections of the city. Some residents were given just hours to leave.

Mr. Hua feared China’s strictly controlled news media would not cover the evictions accurately, so he decided to document and publish online his own videos of the crackdown.

Starting in November, he posted to YouTube and WeChat dozens of videos he shot with his mobile phone and a selfie stick. Often, he filmed himself walking past the rubble of demolished buildings, or interviewing the laborers who were promised work and a better life in the capital only to have everything suddenly upended.

It felt like a disaster, he said.

Continue reading

Ai Weiwei on “Human Flow”

List members may be interested in this interview with Ai Weiwei on HUMAN FLOW–Ai’s lyrical, investigative documentary on the global refugee crisis–conducted by my colleague Cynthia Rowell and I for CINEASTE magazine. We discussed art, activism, beauty, freedom, and humanity. Many questions focus on Ai’s growth as a liberated, cosmopolitan artist from China and belonging to the world. Thank you for your time!


Best regards,

Lulu Chen <luciachn@gmail.com>

The Bold, the Corrupt and the Beautiful

Source: Taipei Times (11/30/17)
Movie review: The Bold, the Corrupt and the Beautiful
With nobody really meaning what they say, this film may be initially confusing for some, but the superb acting and chilling plot make it a must see — even if you have to watch it twice
By Han Cheung  /  Staff Reporter

Kara Hui, left, Vicky Chen, center and Patty Wu play the three main characters in The Bold, the Corrupt and the Beautiful. Photo courtesy of atmovies.com

If you are not an expert in reading between the lines or decoding sentences that have layers of meaning, you might have trouble following this movie, which is drowning in cold blood with lies, backstabbing and underhanded dealings.

Further complicating things is the director Yang Ya-che’s (楊雅喆) use of fabricated memories, subtle imagery, metaphors and implied events, leaving much open to interpretation (it’s mostly explained eventually, though). It’s the kind of film you might want to watch twice, as you’ll probably be oohing and ahhing with new revelations the second time around.

Whether you get the film immediately or have to look on the Internet for answers afterward, it can’t be denied that the acting, in general, is off the charts. Fourteen-year-old Vicky Chen (陳文淇) fully deserves her Golden Horse award for best supporting actress — but Patty Wu (吳可熙) feels just as legitimate for consideration. Continue reading

Angels Wear White

Source: Global Times (11/26/17)
Award-winning Chinese film sparks discussion by tackling aftermath of child molestation

Promotional material for Angels Wear White Photo: IC

Premiering in the Chinese mainland on Friday, award-winning Chinese film Angels Wear White ignited widespread discussion on China’s social media platforms as the film’s debut came on the heels of reports of child abuse at a Beijing kindergarten.

Directed by Chinese director Vivian Qu, the modern noir film focuses on Mia, a teenager who becomes the sole witness to the sexual assault of two young schoolgirls by a middle-aged man, and Wen, one of the victims of the assault, as they try to free themselves from increasingly harrowing circumstances. Continue reading

Afternoon with Huang Wenhai and Zeng Jinyan

The Exilic Gaze and the Activist Lens:
An Afternoon with Documentary Filmmakers Huang Wenhai and Zeng Jinyan

Saturday, December 2, 2017, 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Michelson Theater, Department of Cinema Studies, NYU
721 Broadway, 6th Floor

Huang Wenhai and Zeng Jinyan are two important members of the Chinese independent documentary community that emerged in Beijing in the 1990s. The community has since flourished and transformed into a complex cluster of groups with diverse social, political, and aesthetic aspirations, as well as wider regional dispersal. Currently based in Hong Kong, veteran independent director Huang Wenhai (Dream Walking 2005, We 2008) and human rights activist, feminist scholar, blogger and filmmaker Zeng Jinyan(Prisoners in Freedom City, 2007), joined hands in making We the Workers (2017). The epic-scale film documents migrant workers of two generations in Southern China who have tried to organize themselves to protest against the unfair compensation and sub-human workingconditions that have been part of the price tag of the economic miracle in China.

2:00 pm -5:00 pm We the Workers 凶年之畔, directed by Huang Wenhai & produced by Zeng Jinyan, 2007, 173 min.

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm Panel discussion with Huang Wenhai, Zeng Jinyan, Prof. Angela Zito (Center for Religion and Media, NYU) & Prof. Feng-Mei Heberer (Cinema Studies, NYU), moderated by Prof. Zhen Zhang (Cinema Studies, NYU).

Co-sponsored by the Center for Religion and Media, NYU.

Free and open to the public.

Interview with Miao Xiaotian

Source: China Film Insider (11/17/17)
CFI Interview: Miao Xiaotian, President of China Film Co-production Corporation

Miao Xiaotian and Janet Yang at 2016 U.S.-China Film Summit. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)

As China grows into the world’s largest film market, an increasing number of filmmakers entertain the idea of adding Chinese elements in their films or even co-producing films with China in hopes of attracting a global audience (while also enjoying the possible commercial rewards.) If you are a filmmaker who is exploring the possibilities in this area, China Film Co-production Corporation is a key organization that you must work with.

Founded in 1979, China Film Co-Production Corporation (CFCC) is solely authorized by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) to administer affairs relating to Chinese-foreign film co-productions. Continue reading

Everyday farm scenes taking screens by storm

Source: SCMP (11/12/17)
Films of Everyday Farm Scenes in China May Not Be Blue Planet But They Are Taking Screens by Storm
Ducks waddle, corn dries, eels give catchers the slip: live-streams of such scenes are a big deal for online broadcasting in China. And for the villagers filming them, it’s not just about fun, but money, too

They could be film stars: ducks on a highway in Yangzhou, China. File Photo

An uprising is underway in rural China and this very 21st century peasant revolution will definitely be televised.

In its vanguard are hard-working sons of the soil like Li Bo, a farmer in the northeast of the country who has discovered a new and unexpected furrow to plough thanks to a concerted push into the countryside by China’s online broadcasting industry.

The 41-year-old farmer from Wuchang village has unearthed a talent for movie direction, and all he needs is an eye for a story, a bit of imagination and his trusty smartphone. Continue reading

Turn It On: China on Film, 2000-2017

Presented concurrently with the exhibition Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, the Guggenheim is screening a film series cocurated by Ai Weiwei and filmmaker Wang Fen.  “Turn It On: China on Film, 2000–2017,” is a series of documentary films from China  produced between 2000 and 2017. You’ve posted about some of the filmmakers before, and I thought you might be interested.

The series is a comprised mostly of daytime screenings, which are free with museum admission. We have one additional film screening on January 4 that is in the evening. Find the screening schedule below

Daytime screenings are free with museum admission and take place in the New Media Theater.

Friday, November 3, 12 pm

Petition 上访, 2009

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

1071 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10128

Directed by Zhao Liang 赵亮
Mandarin with English subtitles, 315 min.
In this long-form documentary filmed over more than a decade, petitioners at Beijing South Railway Station Petition Office are confronted by contradictions in a system intended to protect citizens from legal injustice and political violation. Continue reading

Pingyao Film Fest tests limits

Source: NYT (11/2/17)
China’s Newest Film Festival Tests the Limits of Independence

Technicians preparing for Pingyao’s film festival. The organizers hope it will be China’s answer to America’s Sundance festival. CreditGiulia Marchi for The New York Times

PINGYAO, China — It seemed odd to meet an aspiring director at a film festival who pleaded not to be quoted. He was afraid, he explained, after a discussion about cinema in China veered into censorship and how it affects filmmakers working here.

It is the question hovering over the weeklong festival that opened on Saturday in the ancient walled city of Pingyao: Can you create and showcase independent films in a country that frowns on independence, much less dissent? Continue reading

Journal of Chinese Cinemas–cfp

Call for Papers: Chaotic Formats: Video, Moving Images, Cinematic Displays
Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Special Issue 2019

In postsocialist China, the boundaries between the practice of artmaking and filmmaking, and the spaces of contemporary art and cinema, have rarely been distinct. Instead, artistic practices in China are characterized by a chaos of formats, an ambivalence about presentational modes and an implicit or explicit acknowledgement of mainstream representational and presentational formats. Moving image art has become a potent analytic and practical category for art history and film scholars to examine the alternative production, exhibition and funding models that facilitate the migration of filmmakers into the spaces of art and artists into the spaces of film. In Europe and North America, this migration produced anxieties about medium specificity that were exacerbated by the introduction of digital technologies, and many of these anxieties shape the discussion around artist’s cinema and filmmaker’s art exhibitions. Such concerns, central to European and North American discussions of “crossing the black box and the white cube,” are largely absent in the Chinese context. Continue reading

Ruan Lingyu mystique

Source: BBC News (10/30/17)
Ruan Lingyu: The Greta Garbo of China
There remains intense interest in Ruan Lingyu and the mystery surrounding her death. Who was the enigmatic film star? Vivienne Chow finds out
By Vivienne Chow

(Credit: Alamy)

Ruan Lingyu was born in 1910 in Shanghai, which was the hub of the Chinese film industry until the founding of the People’s Republic, when it moved to Hong Kong (Credit: Alamy)

It’s been 82 years since Ruan Lingyu took her own life but the legend of the silent screen goddess lives on. Despite the fact that many of her films were either lost or incomplete, Ruan’s surviving realist dramas, set against the backdrop of the golden age of China’s pre-war era, capture her legendary mystique, which was forever enshrined with her mysterious suicide at age 24.

That mystique was the focus of the 1992 biopic Centre Stage by Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan. Starring Maggie Cheung as Ruan, the film re-introduced the charismatic on-screen presence and tragic off-screen life of the 1930s star to a new generation. Throughout her nine-year career, Ruan made 29 films. Some of these titles, such as A Spray of Plum Blossoms (1931), Little Toys (1933), The Goddess (1934) and New Women (1935), are regarded as among the finest films of early Chinese cinema. Her roles represented a new generation of Chinese women liberated from dynastic rule but still struggling to find their place in the republican era. Continue reading