From Underground to Independent: Alternative Film Culture in Contemporary China (Asia/Pacific/Perspectives)
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This groundbreaking book presents a critical introduction to the cultural and political dimensions of contemporary Chinese cinema. Leading Western and Chinese scholars trace the changing dynamics of Chinese film culture since the early 1990s as it moves away from underground and toward independence in the new century. Yet as the rich case studies illustrate, the sheer variety of alternative film culture itself provides sufficient opportunities for different—at times contradictory—configurations of cinematic products. Drawing on vigorous interdisciplinary scholarship, the book investigates the objects of its study from various methodological perspectives, ranging from historical and literary to sociological and ethnographic. In addition to offering critical readings of specific texts, this book explores alternative film culture through personal interviews, on-site observations, and media interrogations, from traditional print media to the visual media of film, television, and video, including the new digital media of the Internet. The contributors also consider the flourishing independent documentary filmmaking scene, highlighting a crucial part of alternative film that has been previously obscured by an almost exclusive attention on the fifth- and sixth-generation directors of fictional movies. With its fresh and knowledgeable analysis of Chinese underground and independent filmmaking, this book will be essential reading for all those interested in a society caught between socialism and global currents.
Contributions by: Chris Berry, Jim Cheng, Valerie Jaffee, Matthew David Johnson, Tonglin Lu, Chen Mo, Seio Nakajima, Paul G. Pickowicz, Zhiwei Xiao, and Yingjin Zhang.
Avant-garde Filmmakers Born between 1961 and 1970] (Beijing: Zhongguo youyi chuban gongsi, 2002); Cui Zi’en, Diyi guanzhong [The First Audience] (Beijing: Xiandai chubanshe, 2003); Lin Xudong et al., eds., Jia Zhangke dianying: guxiang sanbuqu zhi “Xiao Wu” [Jia Zhangke’s Films: Hometown Trilogy, Xiao Wu] (Beijing: Mangwen chubanshe, 2003, 3 vols.). In 2003, two European directors, Solveig Klassen and Katharina Schneider-Roos, produced an important documentary film on Chinese underground film, My
Films, 1996), Chen Kaige dianying lun (On Chen Kaige’s Films, 1998), Bainian dianying shanhui (A Hundred Years of Cinema in Flashback, 2000), and Yingshi wenhua xue (A Study of Film and Television Culture, 2001). Jim Cheng holds an MA in comparative literature and an MLS in library and information science, both from the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the head of the International Relations and Pacific Studies Library and East Asia Collection at the University of California, San Diego,
engaged in “collective masturbation.”30 While working on Jiang Hu, Wu lived with performers in a song-and-dance troupe traveling among rural towns and small cities, and arrived at this vision of self-positionality: “You scrutinized yourself and discovered that you no longer belonged to any group, not to the stage nor to the audience—you belong to yourself.”31 Wu thus clarifies the positionality that authorizes his call for “returning to yourself” (huidao zishen): his new position is not an
(1993), for example, divergence from official viewpoints concerning the Cultural Revolution is staged through a series of persuasive montages that include interviews with former Red Guards and borrowed footage of Red Guard rallies. For Wu, the significance of the film was that it allowed him access to a historical experience from which he often felt excluded—one in which, as he described it, “the wheel of revolution had always drove on ahead of me ... [and] I was only able to catch up to the wake
Similarly, Wu Wenguang recounted his experiences of helping to judge a Discovery Channel competition for independent documentaries sent in by viewers. He found his judgment constrained by a Discovery Channel aesthetic of drama and fast editing very different from his own.20 Duan Jinchuan also noted that while foreign audiences are focused on the election story in his film, Chinese audiences are more interested in the personalities, and both he and Jiang acknowledged that foreign television