Thursday, September 27, 2012

Caged Interactions and Silent Tears – Zhao Dayong’s "Rough Poetry"

Sometimes a film that is initially underwhelming lingers in your mind, the echo of the images slowly transforming into more than they appeared in the moment of viewing. Zhao Dayong’s 50-minute Rough Poetry (2009) is, as its title implies, a unpolished experiment more than a fully fledged movie. But there is something in its meandering, apparently unscripted conversations and lingering close ups that resonated for days after I watched it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Melbourne Film Festival Pics and Coverage of China Docos Program

Dan Edwards and Ou Ning at the Melbourne International Film Festival last month (Image: Luisa Mirabilio,

As I reported extensively here at Screening China back in August, the Melbourne International Film Festival hosted a small retrospective of Chinese documentaries this year curated by myself, entitled Street Level Visions. The program attracted considerable interest, and dGenerate Films have now published a full summary of media coverage of the program, which included stories on television and radio, and in newspaper and magazines.

I’ve also got some pictures here of filmmakers Ou Ning (Meishi Street) and Wang Jiulaing (Beijing Besieged by Waste), who were in Melbourne as guests of the festival. The images are from a panel that took place in the festival bar on 14 August.

All image by Luisa Mirabilio (

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Locked Out of His Own Country – Short Interview with Ying Liang, Director of When Night Falls

Director Ying Liang, currently threatened with arrest if he returns to mainland China.

As I noted in a "Newsbites" post back in June, director Ying Liang was threatened with arrest if he set foot back in mainland China earlier this year, following the unveiling of his film When Night Falls (Wo hai you hua yao shuo) at South Korea’s Jeonju International Film Festival on April 28. The threat received some press back in May, but little has been reported since.

I wrote about Ying’s case in an article for Crikey last week, and interviewed the director via email about his predicament. He confirmed that the threat of arrest still stands. Ying is currently living and working in Hong Kong. I have reproduced his answers from our online chat below with his kind permission.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

“A Rare and Precious Opportunity” – La Frances Hui on the China Exposé Program in Nepal

Last month the Film Southasia festival, showcasing documentaries from around the South Asia region, took place in Kathmandu, Nepal. China Exposé, a program of six independent Chinese works, was a prominent part of this year's festival. La Frances Hui of the Asia Society, New York, curated the China Exposé program, and I interviewed her last week via email about her work and the problems documentary maker Hu Jie experienced when he tried to travel to the event.

The interview with Hui was conducted as part of my research for an article last week for Crikey about some of the problems certain Chinese filmmakers are currently experiencing. Thanks to Hui for kindly allowing me to publish her interview here at Screening China.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chinese Independent Film Culture Under Pressure - Article in

Ying Liang, director of When Night Falls, currently threatened with arrest if he returns to mainland China.

As mentioned in my “Newsbites” post yesterday China’s independent film culture has been under pressure in recent months, with documentarian Hu Jie prevented from leaving China and the Beijing Independent Film Festival opening shutdown through a power cut last month. Back in June I noted that feature film director Ying Liang had been threatened with arrest if he returns to mainland China following the debut of his film When Night Falls in South Korea in April. That threat apparently still stands.

Yesterday the Australian news site Crikey published an article by me detailing these issues. Here’s an excerpt:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Newsbites: Hu Jie Blocked from Travel, Beijing Indie Film Fest Blackout, and Painted Skin 2 Smashes Box Office Records

Screening China’s regular roundup of Chinese film news.

The environment for China’s independent film sector continues to deteriorate, even as box office records in mainstream cinemas are regularly broken. Two recent episodes have highlighted the difficulties independent filmmakers and festivals are facing.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Quiet Currents of Emotion – Ann Hui’s “A Simple Life”

Andy Lau and Deanie Ip in Ann Hui's A Simple Life.

Although Hong Kong cinema is best known in the West for its kinetic, over the top action, it has an equally venerable tradition of family melodramas rife with tear-jerking tragedy. Alex Law’s Echoes of the Rainbow is but one recent example of this long standing genre. A Simple Life (Tao Jie), the latest effort from HK legend Ann Hui, fits into this filmic lineage, but it’s at the more restrained end of the melodramatic spectrum – a brooding, melancholy take on life’s meaning rather than an unabashed weepie.