Chinese Independent Cinema Observer event

Launch Event for Issue 2 of the Chinese Independent Cinema Observer: Chinese Avant-Garde Art of the 1980s: A Conversation with Cui Weiping and Wen Pulin

About this event

The second issue of the Chinese Independent Cinema Observer, ‘Pre-History of Chinese Independent Cinema’, aims to explore the conditions that allowed Chinese independent films (including documentaries and fiction films, but with more emphasis on documentaries) to emerge. Chinese independent cinema is rooted in the 1980s and was an important consequence of the emancipation of social thought and avant-garde literary and art movements after the Cultural Revolution. The contributors to this issue explore the origins of Chinese independent cinema. Based on historical analysis and their own experience, they push back the start of independent documentary filmmaking from the previously accepted 1990s to the mid-1980s.

This issue also includes an exhibition of photographs and paintings made by the Stars Art Group, a Chinese avant-garde group of artists that emerged in 1979, and reviews of four films in the 1980s that were bold exploratory and controversial at the time. We look at intellectual connections and aesthetic legacies between the 1980s and the 1990s in order to trace the origins or pre-history of independent cinema, hoping to suggest some new directions and offer first-hand research data for future studies in this field.

To launch this journal issue, the Chinese Independent Film Archive (CIFA) has organised an online conversation about avant-garde art in China in the 1980s between the two executive editors of this issue, Sabrina Qiong Yu and Wang Xiaolu, one of the authors of this issue, Cui Weiping, a former professor at the Beijing Film Academy, writer and social critic, and one of the interviewees of this issue, Wen Pulin, a writer, art critic, and pioneering independent documentary filmmaker in the 1980s. The conversation will focus on avant-garde art and the spirit of the 1980s, its influence on independent cinema after the 1990s, and whether there is still an art avant-garde in China today. The conversation takes place on Saturday 6 November at 1:30-3:30pm London time (6:30-8:30am Los Angeles time and 9.30-11:30pm Beijing time) on Zoom, with live English and Chinese translation.

Please register for the event here.

After registration, you will receive a Zoom link to attend one week in advance of the event.

Posted by: Luke Robinson <>

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