Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Poetic, Timeless Solitude In Tahir Hamut’s “Beautiful Lover”

Dispatches from Xinjiang - My Beautiful Lover 2
One of the driving forces in the Uyghur film scene is a filmmaker and poet named Tahir Hamut. A graduate of Beijing’s National Minorities University, Tahir began his academic career as one of the premier Uyghur critics of Western Modernist literature. Throughout the 1990s he, along with Perhat Tursun and others, were the leaders of a Uyghur avant garde poetry movement. Then in 1998 he turned his attention to filmmaking. Now Tahir serves as one of the principle instructors in the Film Department of the Xinjiang Arts Institute in Ürümchi.

Xinhua News Calls US “A Butt”

Xinhua tweet US a butt
At some point, you think maybe Xinhua would stop letting the more unsavory of their foreign copyeditors access the Twitter account. That point is not today.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Edge of the Bazaar, A Documentary About Uyghur Rural Life

The Edge of the Bazaar Dispatches from Xinjiang featured image 2
One of the emerging trends among young Uyghur film directors is a new attention to documentary filmmaking. This approach has long been a part of Uyghur cinema, but previously it was often part of a larger public relations presentation sponsored by the Chinese Culture Ministry. These new documentary short films are independently produced on limited budgets by young filmmakers who have an intimate knowledge of their subjects.

Chinese Netizens Are Helping A New Yorker Find His Stolen iPhone

Chinese social media story - lost iPhone
Here's the classic story of a man who lost his phone in New York's East Village only to discover -- due to a stranger's pictures appearing on his photo stream -- that the phone is still alive, though halfway across the world. This is undoubtedly the cross-culture social media story of the year, featuring Avril Lavigne, firework pics (iPhones have amazing cameras, never forget), and a human flesh engine search initiated by Chinese netizens.

Sindicator, Ep.07: PM2.5 and Your Life

Sindicator pollution featured image
For you: a very special Sindicator. Using the sino-indicator of PM2.5 I show how air pollution can really fuck with your emotions. A bit more gravitas in this, a short film documenting a day in shit air, but with a kitschy sci-fi mood and a bit of dark humor.

An Emerging Chinese Illustrator Finds Herself In The US

Lisk Feng 1
Few things can poison an artist’s development quite like early fame. And when fame comes knocking, it takes a lot to cast it away and reboot one’s art career in an unfamiliar world. Illustrator Lisk Feng made that tough decision three years ago when she left her hometown behind to build her skills and begin a new career in the US.

China’s “Internet Censorship Anthem” Is Amazing.

China Internet censorship anthem
There's verve here. Brio. These singers are rouged with holy spirit and plainly happier than you and I, poor nonbelievers at Christmas Mass. Why do we continue to pay the price for our pride? Who are we to let the piddling inconvenience of no Gmail make us glum, corruptible, not-rippling as befits our 5,000 years, unfaithful and obfuscated and dark and meekly dying on sand? March to this goddamn battuta, guys. INTERNET POWER. Hotdamn.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: “Lift” And The Future Of Uyghur Film

Lift and the future of Uyghur film
When Memetjan Semet first came to Urumchi he remembers being shocked at how isolated everyone felt from each other. For the first time in his life he didn’t have his family and childhood friends to lean on for support. He also noticed that he wasn’t alone in this condition. No one in the big city seemed to care about the others around themselves. Instead, people kept their heads down. They focused on their smartphones, chatted with friends in the virtual world, and ignored the difficulties of people nearby. The problems of strangers were not something they needed to feel.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Uyghur Kids And Their “Dream From The Heart”

Uyghur soccer players from Hotan featured image
A recent Uyghur-language short film called “Dream From the Heart” (English and Chinese subtitles) tells the story of a group of boys from Qaraqash, a county of more than half a million people in Southern Xinjiang. Shot as part of China Southern Airlines’s new ad campaign by the award-winning director Zhang Rongji (张荣吉), the film references the true stories of how self-taught and underfunded young people from the deep poverty of Hotan and Kashgar prefectures struggle to compete with more privileged opponents.

Sindicator, Ep.06: Food In China, Part 2 – The Meat Sweats

Sindicator food in China part 2 featured image
Following up on Sindicator’s last episode about Food Security in China, let's look at how food security and food safety go hand in hand. Simply put: security is about quantity, while safety is about quality. But let's be real, when we talk about China, we're always talking about quantity. And quality of that much quantity is difficult to oversee, especially in the context of MEAT.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Blind Voice Of The New Silk Road

Voice of the silk road
This week is the screening of the seventh segment of the first round of The Voice of the Silk Road – a show that hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs watch every Friday night at 8 pm local time on Xinjiang TV Channel 9. People like the contest because they can watch their favorite performers joke around with each other; they can see people they know perform or imagine themselves performing in their place. Uyghurs see themselves trying on a performance mode popularized by mainstream English and Chinese-language versions of the show, but instead of English or Chinese pop ballads and American and (largely) Han stories of unrecognized talent, on this show they see the reverse. They largely see Uyghur folk songs, classical muqam and pop music; and they mostly hear Uyghur stories of personal triumph.

The Beautiful Faces Of North Korea

Mangyongdae Theatre, North Korea
The amazing folks over at the North Korea news and analysis website NK News are back with the second edition of their (hopefully annual) NK News Calendar, with pictures by award-winning photographer Eric Lafforgue. You can buy the calendar here -- and get $5 off by entering beijingcream as the coupon code.

Joy, Hardship And Ultimate Frisbee: Ivan Xu’s Unique Ride Across Europe

2014 August- About to start the day to cycle in Nancy France
Back in June, we brought your attention to the adventures of Ivan Xu, a Chinese youth who planned to bike alone around Europe for 100 days for Ultimate Frisbee and charity. He ended up cycling across 14 countries and visiting 11 high-level Ultimate Frisbee clubs* from June 18 to September 25, beginning in Brest, Belarus and ending in Berlin. His adventures have been profiled by media around the world, including CCTV-4, Estrepublicain.fr, Pärnu Postimees, Belarusian CTV, Russia-Belarus TPO TV and OHT TV, so what follows is hardly an exclusive. But here's an update anyway.