Posted just last week to Vimeo (password duihua), The Dialogue is a film by Wang Wo that looks at the Chinese government’s increasingly restrictive policies toward non-governmental contact between minority groups (specifically Tibetan and Uyghur) and Han Chinese. The film centers on an attempt by Chinese intellectuals and human rights lawyers to make contact with the Dalai Lama.
Beijingers, if you're looking for something to do over Spring Festival that doesn't involve elbowing fathers and sons inside crowded parks, check out the Crossroads, a non-profit / NGO community center in Gulou, which is screening two independent documentaries every day from now until February 6.
PBS has done all of us a favor by offering free streaming of the award-winning documentary Last Train Home on its website until February 11. You have to be located in the US, so fire up those VPNs and get watching.
It’s not every day that a Chinese animated film manages to secure more than 1 million yuan in funding. It’s even rarer that that money comes from the crowd.
But 3,596 backers saw promise in Big Fish & Chinese Flowering Crabapple, a new film by Liang Xuan. Enough promise that they donated 1.58 million yuan over 45 days on Demohour.
It now holds the title of China’s most successful crowd-funded project to date.
The bar Alfa was hopping last Friday as actors / patrons gathered for a casting call / fundraiser for indie director Moxie Peng’s newest project, My 17 Gay Friends.
Eighty percent of the night’s collected cover went to support the production.
Attendees had the choice of being a judge or trying out for a role in the film. Judges were given masks to protect their identities and limited to choosing only two candidates.
Our friends at Beijing Today will be swinging by every now and then to introduce art and culture around the city. This week, please meet independent filmmaker Lei Yong, whose debut The Young Play Games, The Old Play Tai Chi tells the life of China's "parasite singles," young people who have enjoyed education and opportunity but remain unemployed and hapless.
We're going to assume this was an accident, because in which universe would a fan-made poster depicting hunky Thor with his arms wrapped around an aroused Loki find itself front and center at a mainstream theater? (If you answered "Asgard" in your head... congratulations!) Atlantic Wire has this wonderful tale:
It was more than a year ago (has it been so long?) that we posted about a Kickstarter called "Awesome Asian Bad Guys," in which two Los Angeles-based filmmakers sought to make an action-comedy Web series featuring a bunch of Asian bad guys you might have forgotten.
After a handful of English-language publications declared that authorities had "shut down" the Beijing Independent Film Festival (BIFF), many people likely dusted their hands of the matter, thinking censorship had once again triumphed over artistic expression. But as James Hsu discovered more than a week after the festival’s supposed cancellation, BIFF held a successful, albeit quiet, closing ceremony following a full program of screenings and panels.
So what happened? A few days after the closing, I met with artistic director Dong Bingfeng to ask him about that and other issues on censorship, film in China, and independent festivals in the future.
In an interesting turn of events, the Beijing Independent Film Festival concluded on Saturday without further interference from local authorities. Despite opening-day warnings that suggested cancellation was a distinct possibility, the festival continued to screen films every day at the Li Xianting Film Fund's office courtyard in Songzhuang Art District.
There are plenty of reasons to not like Pacific Rim, the latest summer action movie to come off Hollywood's assembly line. That the film reflects "the United States' Asia-Pacific strategy" should not be one of those reasons.
China's PLA Daily, everyone:
In spite of Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro's diplomatic observations about the sad racial and geopolitical architecture of Hollywood's summer blockbusters, his Pacific Rim does not want for just such stereotypes. There is the fact that an entire hour of film passes during which only a few lines are spoken by a woman -- this in a film whose marketing materials sell it with a female co-star. And there's the stereotype-affirming white guy-submissive Asian female duo (alternative film title: South Pacific Rim). It seems, in del Toro's "very equal structure" of world-saving, a vagina is as much a threat to the world as the "breach" on the sea floor from which monsters crawl forth.
Then there is the China problem.
Simply put, you should watch Living with Dead Hearts, a documentary made by the husband-wife team of Charlie Custer and Leia Li. The film follows four families who have been touched by child trafficking, and through their stories, we gain an understanding of an under-publicized issue that affects untold thousands in China every year.
Something a bit different this week. Movie trailer instead of music video. This is the trailer to Dinosaur Rider, a movie "adapted from real events" about Beijing's "most hardcore punk band," Bedstars. The grand opening night, film screening, launch, debut, gala party, whatever-it-is, is tonight at 9 pm at XP. No entry fee. You should check this movie out. Greasy degenerate punk rockers on the big screen. Beijing pride.
It's only five minutes and the acting is notional, but Verax is officially the first dramatization featuring NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The film, made by Hong Kong-based videographer Edwin Lee and friends, isn't completely about Snowden -- it's as much a paean to Hong Kong -- but it's received ample media attention nonetheless.
If you haven't already, watch The Gate of Heavenly Peace, directed by Richard Gordon and Carma Hinton, with writing by Geremie Barmé and John Crowley. The three-hour documentary was released in 1995 to rave reviews -- "the atmosphere of the Beijing Spring is conveyed beautifully in all its pathos, drama, hope, craziness, poetry, and violence," wrote Ian Buruma; "a hard-headed critical analysis of a youthful protest movement that failed," wrote The New York Times -- and remains the best film ever made about the June Fourth Incident, neither gorifying the student leaders nor incriminating the Communist Party, but explaining how a peaceful democracy movement could possibly have resulted in martial law and Chinese troops opening fire on their own citizens.
One of our favorite Chinese directors just released a new film, and by all indications, it's excellent. Jia Zhangke's A Touch of Sin, starring his wife Zhao Tao, is a Palme d'Or contender at Cannes, where it premiered on Thursday. The 133-minute film has alternatively been described as "a corrosive depiction of Chinese society" (LA Times) and "a scathing portrait of China's economic boom" (Globe and Mail).