CIFA Website Launch Event Series: Independent Film Criticism in China
A Conversation with Bao Hongwei, Wang Xiaolu, Wu Wenguang, and Zhu Rikun, followed by an open Q&A
Moderator: Luke Robinson
16 January 2021
08:00 New York; 13:00 London; 21:00 Beijing
Due to popular demand, UC Berkeley’s online streaming of “We Have Boots” & “Raise the Umbrellas” — Evans Chan’s two companion films about Hong Kong’s pro-democratic movement between 2014-2019 — will be held over till January 5, 2021.
“Evans Chan did his best in his effort to picture an inflation of history happening right before our eyes, and to create an urgent and important documentary which “We Have Boots” certainly is.”
“Evan Chan’s powerful and comprehensive film puts us at the centre of these protests (a scary and chaotic place to be) and, moving forward to 2019, reminds us that Hong Kong’s battle for freedom and justice is far from over.
In addition to…powerful footage, We Have Boots also includes interviews with an impressive range of intellectuals, students, scholars, and artists – many of whom are facing imprisonment for their democratic activism.
It is incredible – and often very moving – to watch them wrangle with issues of personal safety and security while also remaining true to their passionate belief in democracy, in freedom of speech and in Hong Kong’s future.”
「這部全面，強而有力的電影把我們置身於抗爭之中…震撼的畫面之外，《我們有雨靴》訪問了不少人物，包括那些要面對牢獄之災的民運人士。而經常令人感動的是 —- 他們因面前自己的安穩，及他們對民主、言論自由、香港未來之信念，而產生的內心掙扎！」– 500daysoffilm.com
A Chinese short film — directed by critically-acclaimed filmmaker Chén Kǎigē 陈凯歌 — has become a target of vitriol on the Chinese internet and in government-run media because of its positive portrayal of commercial surrogate pregnancy. The procedure, by which a woman carries another woman’s baby, is technically illegal in China, but rarely punished when practiced on the black market.
Titled “Ten Months with You,” the 30-minute film (in Chinese) was made for the acting reality show “Everybody Stand By 2” (演员请就位), a series where celebrity contestants give their takes on classic scenes from TV dramas and movies. For the finale of the show’s second season, Chen and a group of artists created the controversial film, which tells the story of “the complex and painful relationships among three people who are connected by a newborn,” according to the clip’s official description. Continue reading →
Reassessing Chinese Independent Cinema: Past, Present … and Future?
Dates: 29-30 January 2021
Chinese Independent Film Archive & Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne Please click to register
If Wu Wenguang’s Bumming in Beijing (《流浪北京》, 1990) is considered to mark the birth of Chinese independent cinema, that cinema celebrated its 30th birthday in 2020. But if independence is defined in China as meaning production without government permission, China’s first film law in 2017 made that practice illegal. The intervening decades saw the emergence of a broader film culture supporting this filmmaking, from film festivals to film criticism, but also this culture’s metamorphosis under pressure from both state and market. Can we still speak of independent cinema in the PRC, and if so, what does it mean to do so?
“Reassessing Chinese Independent Cinema: Past, Present… And Future?” is the first international conference devoted to Chinese independent cinema. At this important moment, we see to consolidate and advance this emergent field of study and to take stock of the past, present and future of Chinese independent film. After thirty years, there is a significant body of literature on the subject, in a range of languages. What have we learned? What is missing? And what is still to be done?
This conference is part of a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project entitled ‘Independent Cinema in China: State, Market and Film Culture’.
In the wake of scooping several awards at some influential film festivals at home and abroad, actor-turned-filmmaker Liang Ming’s directorial feature debut Wisdom Tooth [日光之下] has opened across over 3,000 member theaters of China National Arthouse Film Alliance after being hailed by critics.
A scene in Wisdom Tooth [Photo provided to China Daily]
A graduate of the acting department of Communication University of China, Liang started his career in the film and TV industry as an actor, but some stereotypical cameo roles and rigid performance requirements had dampened his enthusiasm in front of the camera.
The turning point came in 2008 when he got an opportunity to play a college student in director Lou Ye’s Spring Fever, a fresh experience that helped Liang to enjoy the “freedom of acting and immersing into a role”. Continue reading →
2020 is the 80th anniversary of Bruce Lee’s birth. Lee is still a pop culture icon 47 years after his death. How did this San Francisco-born boy became a legend? Join UBC professor Christopher Rea as he explores Bruce Lee’s story through his body of work and a few of the countless works he continues to inspire. Contemporary Asian Stories is a series of online events presented by Vancouver Public Library in partnership with the University of British Columbia Department of Asian Studies. The series celebrates literature, film, and larger-than-life figures from across modern Asian popular cultures.
Thursday, December 3, 2020; 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm (PST)
‘I See the World Through the Lens of My Camera’, Photography Exhibition by Norman A. Spencer, and Q&A with Norman Spencer & Chris Berry
5 December at 1pm London time (8am New York, 9pm Beijing),
via Zoom Link: https://newcastleuniversity.zoom.us/s/82907945007
CIFA is dedicated to the preservation of and access to Chinese independent film culture. It holds a large and rare collection of films and footage, their associated material culture, existing publications, oral history interviews, among others. CIFA is established with the help of a research grant from UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and operating with the support of Newcastle University. Its website functions as a window onto the collections in the archive and a platform to showcase CIFA’s regular activities including publications, exhibitions and events. Continue reading →
Call for Contributions: Senses of Cinema World Poll 2020
In preparation for its annual World Poll, Senses of Cinema invites contributors and readers to reflect on their cinema highlights of 2020.
A year unlike any other, 2020 overhauled the film culture and filmmaking landscape across the globe. Productions ceased or were postponed. Theatrical releases vanished; instead, a new release here and there ‘dropped’ on streaming services. Festivals and special programming events shuttered and reappeared online, if at all. However, in times of crisis, new possibilities and opportunities sprout. In impromptu fashion, many of us formed online film clubs with like-minded folk, sharing our passion and maintaining dialogue and critical reflection in an informal way. With more time on our hands, some of us dusted off DVD collections, became acquainted with the vast backlog of streaming services or decided to home in on specific auteurs, historical periods or genres of our choosing. It was also an innovative time for non-commercial programmers and curators who pivoted online – using social media to stream content (and for the first time reach an international audience) or create unique cinematic events online.
In this call, we invite you to reflect on your film viewing in 2020, and collate your cinematic highlights. Continue reading →
I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book Close-ups and Long Shots in Modern Chinese Cinemas (University of Hawai’i Press). Here is a short description:
Two of the most stylized shots in cinema—the close-up and the long shot—embody distinct attractions. The iconicity of the close-up magnifies the affective power of faces and elevates film to the discourse of art. The depth of the long shot, in contrast, indexes the facts of life and reinforces our faith in reality. Each configures the relation between image and distance that expands the viewer’s power to see, feel, and conceive.
To understand why a director prefers one type of shot over the other then is to explore more than aesthetics: It uncovers significant assumptions about film as an art of intervention or organic representation. Close-ups and Long Shots in Modern ChineseCinemas is the first book to compare these two shots within the cultural, historical, and cinematic traditions that produced them. In particular, the global revival of Confucian studies and the transnational appeal of feminism in the 1980s marked a new turn in the composite cultural education of Chinese directors whose shot selections can be seen as not only stylistic expressions, but ethical choices responding to established norms about self-restraint, ritualism, propriety, and female agency. Continue reading →
A scene in Being Mortal. [Photo provided to China Daily]
As one of China’s most influential movie events to gather arthouse enthusiasts, the ongoing 4th Pingyao Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon International Film Festival has attracted many young talents to screen their latest directorial outings.
The annual festival, founded by award-winning director Jia Zhangke, is being held in Pingyao, an historic city in North China’s Shanxi province. It opened Saturday and ends Monday.
Liu Ze, a Shanxi native born in 1983, held the global premiere of his new movie, Being Mortal, during the festival on Saturday. Continue reading →
A scene in the documentary Like the Dyer’s Hand. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Like the Dyer’s Hand, a 120-minute documentary about traditional Chinese literature scholar Florence Chia-ying Yeh, opens across more than 3,000 member cinemas of China National Arthouse Film Alliance today.
As the first biographical film authorized by Yeh, who turned 96 in July, the movie looks back at her legendary life through interweaving interviews of her and scholars and literature enthusiasts.
Producers said the crew traveled to 10 areas in China, the United States and Canada, and interviewed 43 people close to Yeh, mostly her students – such as writers Pai Hsien-yung, Hsi Muren and sinologist Stephen Owen. Continue reading →
The 2nd Red Bird Student Film Festival
Time: October 1-November 1, 2020
When the 2020 pandemic suspended mainstream filmmaking activities around the world due to social distancing rules, about 15 students from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology were making independent films in different parts of the globe: Wuhan, Kunming, Shijiazhuang, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London.
Each student established a one-man’s studio and made a documentary film about the impact of the pandemic. As amateurs, they audaciously engaged in “extreme filmmaking,” that is, filmmaking under extreme conditions: pandemic, no funding, no professional equipment, no teammates. They started shooting in early February and kept tracking the pandemic week by week until June or September. They made 15 films in total, including documentaries, fictional documentaries, animated documentaries, and stop-motion animation. The lengths of their films vary: animated films are around 6-8 minutes and live-action films 10-20 minutes, with the exception of a feature-length documentary about Wuhan lockdown.
Our Time Machine is a fascinating film. I watched it at an online premier (with 3 teens, who were also moved by it) at the recommendation of a filmmaker colleague who knows Leo Chiang. Highly recommended!
This documentary film, Our Time Machine (dirs. Yang Sun and S. Leo Chiang), looks really interesting. It will be screening on PBS over the next couple of weeks in the POV series. Check your local listings, as they say. Not sure if it’s available online, for those of you outside the US.–Kirk