A Brief History Of Bootlegging In Beijing

Bootlegged DVDs in Beijing
Lately I’ve been thinking about a particular aspect of Beijing history that doesn’t get written about much: bootlegging. VHS never caught on in China as it did in the West. It was only when CDs, VCDs, and DVDs landed that things shifted dramatically from state-sponsored TV and film to virtually anything that could be dubbed to disc. Suddenly the French New Wave, Chuck Norris, and Buster Keaton -- even whole historical collections from foreign national archives -- were available to anyone who had a few kuai to rub together. Read more »

The Creamcast, Ep.16: The 9th Bookworm Literary Festival – Best Lineup Ever?

BJC The Creamcast logo 250x250
The 9th annual Bookworm Literary Festival kicks off on Friday, March 13, and this year's lineup looks to be one of the most interesting ever. The guests on this week's Creamcast certainly think so -- they're festival coordinators, after all -- but don't let their bias stop you from checking it out yourself. Read more »

Bookworm Literary Festival Events Not To Overlook

Bookworm Literary Festival events not to overlook
Tickets to the Bookworm Literary Festival went on sale on Saturday. This year's program is impressive for both its diversity of content — two journalism panels, stand-up comedy, art, environment, tech, trivia – and the strength of the visiting authors -- Chang-rae Lee, Yasmina Khadra, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Willis Barnstone, Victoria Hislop, Michael Meyer. Many events will probably go overlooked. They shouldn't be. Read more »

The Creamcast, Ep.15: North Korea, Or “Do Animals Cry?”

BJC The Creamcast logo 250x250
Welcome to the reboot of The Creamcast! From the studio of Popup Chinese, RFH and I welcomed Andray Abrahamian, Executive Director at Choson Exchange, and Simon Cockerell, general manager of Koryo Tours, to talk about all things North Korea -- spying, journalism, coffee, reunification, and whether animals cry (this was really a predominant theme). Read more »

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. Read more »

Announcing: Poetry Beijing At The Bookworm Literary Festival

Poetry Beijing 2015
Hello, poets of Beijing. The Bookworm Literary Festival -- one of the largest bilingual cultural events in China -- has renewed our community poetry event for this year's program, which means it's time to get writing, reading, and workshopping. Last year's event, Poetry Night in Beijing, attracted a standing-room only crowd, and we can only hope to again get that kind of support. Consider this an open call. If you're interested, read on. Read more »

Fireworks Usher In Lunar New Year In Beijing

Chinese New Year fireworks 2015i
For the first time ever, New York City set off fireworks to commemorate Chinese New Year. It happened over the Hudson and was synchronized and jubilant. At one moment it looked like skyscrapers were melting out of the night. Colorful. Impressive. Yet it was still mere facsimile for the real thing. You see, for my money, the most noteworthy -- if not outright best -- New Year’s celebration happens in Beijing. Read more »

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. Read more »

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. Read more »

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. Read more »

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. Read more »

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. Read more »