Lecture with Zhang Yaxuan, “The Power of Camera: Alternative Point of Views and Insights of Chinese independent Documentary Film”
Zhang Yaxuan is a film critic and curator who has followed the development of Chinese independent film since 2000. She contributes to several publications. She has been organizing film festivals both in China and internationally. She participated in the production of the films including:
Bingai (co-producer) by Feng Yan, 2007
Dans Les Decombres (co-author) with Olivier Meys, 2008
We and West not so far (executive producer) by Wen Hai, 2008-2009
Xiaomajia's universe (co-producer ) by Mao Chenyu, 2009
New Castle (executive producer) by Guo Hengqi, 2011
Fly with the crane (artistic consultant) by Li Ruijun, 2012
Zhang Yaxuan co-founded CIFA (China Independent Film Archive) in 2008 and curated its inaugural exhibition What Has Been Happening Here?---China Independent Film Documentary in 2009. In 2010 CIFA started to operate independently, as a non-profit academic organization. It continues to devote itself to the presentation and preservation of Chinese independent film in different ways, from film festivals, programming, website to archive and publication.
Screening of documentary film Crime and Punishment (122 min) and Q&A with film director Zhao Liang
On the North Korean border, Chinese military police enforce the law with a heavy hand, leading to moments of harrowing abuse and surreal satire. Amidst the barren wintry landscape of Northeast China, Chinese military police officers rigidly enforce law and order in an impoverished mountain town. They raid a private residence to bust an illegal mahjong game, casually abuse a pickpocket accused of throwing away evidence, and berate a confession out of a scrap collector working without a permit. The police switch between precise investigative procedure, explosions of violent fury, and moments of comic ineptitude, all captured incredibly before the camera. A prime example of how independent documentaries are on the vanguard of Chinese cinema, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT is an unprecedented look at the everyday workings of law enforcement in the world's largest authoritarian society. (Info from dGenerate films)
Film director's bio:
Zhao Liang was born in Dandong, China, in 1971. He graduated from Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang. In 1993-1994 he studied at the Beijing Film Academy. Zhao Liang also works with video installations and photography. Zhao Liang’s works have been shown at numerous international venues; at festivals, biennials and galleries. His films include Crime and Punishment (2007), Petition (2009), and Together (2011).
Screening of documentary film Spiral Staircase of Harbin (109 min) and Q&A with film director Ji Dan
On a hill in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, a girl neglects preparing for her exam. Her mother wants her to study but she draws pictures instead. Below the hill, a couple can’t approach their son about playing less with his friends. The feelings of these powerless parents blend with the atmosphere of an unforgiving modern society.
I returned to my hometown, the Daowai District of Harbin, for the first time in thirty years. “Daowai” means “outside of the road,” and indeed, it seems like the hand of time forgot it. Traces of the past linger and buddies from my youth still live there. Only now my friends’ children are young adults, the same age I was when I left. On the surface, it looks like my old friends and I have lived different lives. I’ve done what I liked, gone to faraway places, and worked persistently to express myself. But as we spend more time together, I see a shadow of myself in them. We slaved away in a supposedly open society and found ourselves forsaken and powerless. We used to be so full of trust and ambition but now I see that our bodies are getting old and our minds are tired. Fortunately, fearless young boys and young girls will forever step up to take our places. What happened to our lives? Through this film I want to observe myself anew and examine the deep, tangled jungles that our lives have brought us through. For me, film is a way to reawaken myself, to call back my spirit.
Awards and Screenings: Special Mentions Prize,
Prize for New Asian Currents, Yamagata
International Film Festival, Japan, 2009
Independent Spirit Award, China Documentary Film
Festival, China, 2010
Film director's bio:
Ji Dan was born in Yichun, Heilongjiang in 1963.
She studied at Beijing Normal University from 1984 to 1988 and majored in Chinese literature and Language. After graduation she went to Japan to study. Influenced and guided by a Japanese journalist friend she started to film with Hi8. From 1994 to 1997, she lived in Lhatse, Tibet, studying Tibetan language and making documentaries on the local life and people. She accumulated almost 200 hours rushes and completed the editing of The Older and Gongbo’s Happy Life in 1999, with the help of her partner Sha Qing.
In 2001, they wandered through Northern Shaanxi province area and made Drifting Clouds (completed in 2005).
In 2002 she filmed an old guy who was staying in a terminal case hospital in Beijing and afterwards finished One Dream in an Empty Castle in 2008.
From 2009 to 2010, she went back to her hometown in the northeast area and made Spiral Stairscase of Harbin;
in 2011 she presented When the Bough Breaks, which have been screened at many film festivals and got the grand-prix in Millenium Documentary Film Festival 2011 in Belgium.
Last modified 28 Apr 2014
“The Power of Camera: Alternative Point of Views and Insights of Chinese independent Documentary Film” Lecture with Zhang Yaxuan,
Screening of documentary film "Crime and Punishment" (122 min) and Q&A with film director Zhao Liang
Screening of documentary film "Spiral Staircase of Harbin" (109 min) and Q&A with film director Ji Dan
Venue: Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Scheelevägen 15B (Alfa 1 building), Alfa 1010 Hall