Into the Light

NEW PUBLICATION: 《在幽昏中显影:港中对话中国独立纪录片2014-2020》 (Into the Light: Discovering Chinese Documentary Film in Hong Kong 2014-2020), co-edited by Zeng Jinyan, Wen Hai, Ying Liang, Li Tiecheng and Cheung Tit-leung

Amazon Kindle link:
Google Play link:
House of Pele Press website (where educators and libraries can purchase a licensed copy of the book):

Here is a bit of introduction to this title:

This book discusses the independent films screened, produced, and distributed by the Chinese Independent Documentary Lab (Hong Kong) from 2014 to 2020, in conversations between directors, scholars and audiences. This collection has chosen to discuss the relatively well documented independent documentaries in the three screening sections of Rebel China, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Desiring China. The book also includes 18 post-screening discussion texts or director interviews on issues on the survivors’ testimonies of Jiabiangou Rightist Labour Camp, Uyghur and Tibetan issues, the three self-churches, the underground intellectuals, former senior government officials, and workers’ resistance.

The book is composed of four sections: “Sexuality, Gender, and the Female Subjectivity”, “Rights and Politics”, “History and Memory”, and “Banishment and Exile”. The book also includes a conversation during the premiere of Outcry and Whisper, which was produced by the CIDL; two interviews by Zeng Jinyan with Ai Weiwei on art (e.g. Human Flow), activism, and censorship in a transnational/exile perspective; an interview by Zeng Jinyan with Ying Liang’s semi-autobiographical fiction film Family Tour; an interview by Zeng Jinyan with Ai Xiaoming on gender and documentary film and activism; a written interview by Vivian Wang with Zeng Jinyan on Zeng’s eight years experiences in Hong Kong on the edge. Except the interview with Ai Weiwei, the remaining four conversations respond to the gender asymmetrical tradition of intellectual and art, in cultural production of independent film (mainly documentaries in this book), curatorial exchange, documentary as social action, and documentary studies. The latter three conversations respond to the topic of re-exile faced by artists who had exiled to Hong Kong, after the Umbrella Movement in 2014, the 2019 Hong Kong Protest, and the 2020 introduction of the National Security Law in Hong Kong. Exile in this context refers to both the internal, ideological, authorial state of being on the margins of society, far from the centre of power and critiquing established structures, as well as the physical exile of artists from their homeland, either of their own accord or by forced choice. “Power and Politics” discusses the way in which independent documentaries respond to the social reality of China in terms of issues and aesthetics, and how the dignity of the human being constructs the humanistic concerns of documentary film in the context of a de-politicised way of thinking about documentary film. In the section “History and Memory”, the documentary filmmaker and the audience discuss how (not able) to find the language of the individual to speak about personal experiences when history is suppressed and tampered with, and to construct a repressed, performative personal memory and collective history based on individual experiences, in a context of controlling the reproduction of history through the control of memory.

Bringing the voices and images that have been hidden in the darkness of the dusk to the Chinese world in Hong Kong and to the discussions about China in the English-speaking world. This, perhaps, is what the Chinese Independent Documentary Lab is doing in Hong Kong and the meaning-making of this book.

Posted by John Kennedy <>

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