Yumen plus animated shorts
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 3 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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Yumen (2013) by Huang Xiang, Xu Ruotao, and JP Sniadecki: Two Chinese avant-garde artists and an American experimental filmmaker have collaborated on a stunningly beautiful Chinese experimental-fiction-documentary that dazzlingly combines ghost stories and “ruin porn” to form a celluloid psycho-collage. Shot on 16mm film (extremely rare in China), the film is set in the largely abandoned oil drilling town of Yumen—a place with an ancient, poetic history in China’s western Gansu province—and takes us through trashed, desolate urban spaces abandoned by Chinese socialism. But the filmmakers bring these places alive with their cast of ghosts, artists, vagabond dancers and singers. It’s a film chock full of fascinating things: massive oil pumps and sun-blasted vistas; nude performance art and impromptu flamenco; fuzzy bunny rabbits and snarling canines; groovy ’70s Taiwan pop and contemporary Korean girl bands; socialist nostalgia; and postmodern pastiche.
Yumen is preceded by:
Perfect Conjugal Bliss (2014) by Zhong Su: A gorgeous 3D animation unscrolling through Chinese history, from grey urban collapse to ultra-coloured consumer dystopia.
How (2013) by Zhang Yipin: Traditional pen-and-ink drawings, animating a fuzzy-haired ruddy-cheeked girl’s imaginative world of terror and freedom.
Double Act (2013) by Ding Shiwei: Black-and-white industrial surreal: bodies float between familiar bureaucratic monuments above, and sunflowers beneath the earth.
image above: Yumen (2013) by Huang Xiang, Xu Ruotao, and JP Sniadecki