The Creamcast, Ep.18: JUE Festival

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JUE | Music + Art is an annual labor of love, a privately run, basically not-for-profit gathering of creatives in Beijing and Shanghai, with live performances, workshops, exhibitions, and talks. Founded in 2009 as a protest against "the big, homogenous mega-festivals emerging in China at that time," JUE Festival has just concluded its 7th program, featuring acts from around the world.

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

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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.

The Creamcast, Ep.17: The Female Voice In Contemporary Chinese Art

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On February 5, 1989, at the opening of the China Avant-Garde Exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, a young performance artist by the name of Xiao Lu fired two gunshots at her work, two telephone booths with figures engaged in conversation inside. Her act -- part of the performance piece titled "Dialogue" -- became synonymous with the exhibition, caused the entire show to be temporarily shut down, and contributed to her and her boyfriend's arrest.

Meet The Poets: Poetry Beijing At The Bookworm Literary Festival

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This Sunday at 2 pm at the Bookworm, as part of the 9th annual Bookworm Literary Festival, seven community poets will join two visiting writers/performers for Poetry Beijing, a celebration of verse and the power of the spoken word. But more importantly, it'll be a spotlight for this community's regular literary events and the people who run them. For example...

A Brief History Of Bootlegging In Beijing

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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.

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

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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.

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.

Fireworks Usher In Lunar New Year In Beijing

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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.

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

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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”

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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

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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

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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.

Sindicator, APEC Special: In Case You Missed It…

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Our beloved China, the new social-political-economic butterfly on the scene, wowed at APEC before jetting off for the ASEAN East Asia Summit and the G20 Summit. Hosting APEC for the first time since 2011, Beijing did things 大气, spending $6 billion on a lakeside campus, a new elevated expressway, and a no-costs-spared spectacular opening complete with fireworks. But how did they really do?

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Uyghur Flamenco And “World Citizenship”

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On any given weekend in China you can find a Uyghur band playing flamenco. It has not always been this way. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that a young man from Qarghiliq in Kashgar prefecture discovered Turkish variations of Spanish flamenco. Over the next decade that man, Arken Abdulla, along with other early flamenco guitarists such as Qehirman and Tursun (see the above video), introduced flamenco to the Uyghur world.