Experimental Short Films from China
Cinema on the Edge Tour Organizer Karin Chien In Person
presented by San Francisco Cinematheque and Cinema on the Edge in association with the Center for Asian American Media and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
This is Program 2 of China Now, an all-day, three-program series of contemporary independent film from China. Full details on this series is available here.
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With the advent of DV technology, grassroots methods of independent filmmaking in China have given rise to innovative new films and spawned an active independent filmmaking culture. Distancing themselves from prevailing ideological currents, critiquing the embrace of global capitalism, and, through the frequent use of on-screen interview and oral history, giving voice to citizens and witnesses omitted from official national narratives of growth and prosperity, these films seldom receive approval by censors and therefore cannot be screened in commercial cinemas in China. Instead, they rely on informal networks of galleries, cafes, universities and festivals which support this active and vital independent artistic activity despite the ebb and flow of government pressure and intervention. In support of the work of independent filmmakers worldwide, San Francisco Cinematheque, in association with the Center for Asian American Media and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, is proud to present this series of programs of recent independent film from China. These programs highlight the work of Chinese independent filmmakers, producers and distribution networks who are dedicated to supporting formally and ideologically challenging work created outside the official Chinese film industry. These films are vital for us to know about in the West, not just for their compelling content—there are few more important stories to tell than China’s transition to world political and cultural powerhouse—but because the filmmakers are inventing new ways of mobilizing, adapting, and innovating film language under pressure of the incredibly rapid and fundamental changes Chinese society is undergoing. The films screened in this series all interrogate how cinema art can and should stand against the real, all stretch cinema art under the pressure of seemingly un-representable new Chinese realities, and all invent images and sounds that try to keep up with a present that is changing before our eyes, one that is shaping our own future at the same time. (Shelly Kraicer, co-organizer of China Now: Independent Visions & Steve Polta, San Francisco Cinematheque)
Poet and Singer (Jingangjing) (2012) by Bi Gan: A visually splendid poem that provocatively but elegantly juxtaposes a poet, a singer, a river, a pair of murderers and the Diamond Sutra.
I Am Not Not Not Chen Zhou (2013) by Chen Zhou: The color yellow, as well as artist Chen Zhou and his alter ego(s), star in this droll, playfully conceptual tour de force.
Dismantling Clematis #16 (2014) by Zhi Jun: After a fire, scarred bonsai trees are meticulously freed of their supporting wires by medical professionals.
image above: I Am Not Not Not Chen Zhou (2013) by Chen Zhou