Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quick Link: Producer David Bandurski on China’s “Third Affliction”

Producer and media researcher David Bandurski.

David Bandurksi, the American Hong Kong-based producer of Chinese director Zhao Dayong, recently penned an opinion piece in the New York Times on what he calls China’s “third affliction” – the nation’s negative image in the world. The piece doesn’t contain anything revelatory for those familiar with contemporary China’s cultural and political landscape, but it’s a neat encapsulation of the schizophrenic nature of China’s cultural sector, split as it is between closely controlled, anodyne state-sanctioned product, and a vibrant unofficial sector which is at best ignored by the state, and at worst actively suppressed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Where Can Chinese Indies Be Purchased or Viewed Online?

The DVD cover for Zhao Dayong's The High Life, now available through Lantern Films.

Readers of Screening China often write to me and ask where they can obtain copies of the independent Chinese films I write about. Unfortunately it's not easy to get many of the titles, but some are now available on DVD for online purchase, or are available for viewing online, so I thought I'd do a post with a couple of tips on where these sites can be found. Please note I have no affiliations with any of the companies or websites listed and take no responsibility for their products or services. All the sites I've listed provide copies of films with English subtitles.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Flashback: Air Rifles and Male Ennui - Hu Xinyu's "The Man"

In the course of researching my thesis and book on China’s independent documentary movement I’ve been watching a lot of older Chinese films. I’ve decided to blog about some of them in a series of “Flashback” posts.

First up is the domestic drama of Hu Xinyu’s documentary The Man (Nanrenmen) from 2003.

A typically lackadaisical moment from Hu Xinyu's ode to male ennui, The Man (2003).

Air Rifles and Male Ennui - Hu Xinyu's "The Man"

No matter what culture you’re in, placing members of the same sex together in close quarters for prolonged periods is always a bad idea. Yet it’s the painful dynamics of watching a trio of bored, unfulfilled men cooped up in a tiny apartment in a provincial Chinese city that makes Hu Xinyu’s film The Man such a hypnotically discomforting experience – like a slow-motion train wreck played out over two hours.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

So Long IFChina Original Studio

Jian Yi talks to a student volunteer at IFChina Original Studio in March this year.

In my “Newsbites” post of October 29, I noted that IFChina Original Studio, an initiative of Chinese filmmaker Jian Yi and his wife Eva, had been told it had to leave Jinggangshan University. Last Saturday (November 5) Jian Yi issued an official statement confirming the studio’s closure.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Beijing Hua and Blow-up Sex Dolls: Sam Voutas’ "Red Light Revolution"

Shunzi (Zhao Jun) and Lili (Vivid Wang) in Sam Voutas' "sex shop comedy" shot entirely in Beijing, Red Light Revolution.

“Sex. Shagging. Making love. Whatever you want to call it, everyone does it. But no-one does it more than us Chinese…”

So begins Sam Voutas’ Red Light Revolution (Hong deng meng), billed as China’s first “sex shop comedy.” I was at The Beijinger when Sam’s film started doing the rounds in Beijing, and I have to admit I was initially a little dubious about the film. A Chinese sex comedy written and directed by a laowai? What were the chances of it being any good? Shortly before I left Beijing earlier this year I got to meet Sam – a fellow Australian – and he gave me a copy, which I perused once I was back in Melbourne. And I must concede, whatever the chances against it, Sam has produced a film that’s not only very funny, but also manages to really capture the flavour of life in China’s capital.