MCLC: Reel China Film Biennial 6

Denton, Kirk denton.2 at
Fri Oct 19 09:28:16 EDT 2012

From: Kevin B Lee <kevin at>
Subject: Reel China Film Biennial 6

The Reel China @NYU 6th Film Biennial continues our tradition of sampling
some of the most outstanding contemporary independent documentaries
produced in China. This year we have also added a few independent fiction
films that we feel also reflect a keen understanding of this post-reform
moment. Participating filmmakers range from more experienced professional
documentarians to young novices. As their disparate visions extend and
overlap, we witness the persistent presence of independent cameras that,
amidst the disorienting transformations of today, assures the discovery
and documentation of fragments of contemporary reality that are becoming
history at breakneck speed.

Curated by Angela Zito (NYU) & ZHANG Zhen (NYU), with special thanks to
HAO Jian, Beijing Film Academy, and ZHANG Qi, Li Xianting Film Foundation.

Presented by The Center for Religion and Media & The Department of Cinema
Sponsored by The Center for Media, Culture and History & China House, NYU
Supported by The Provost’s Global Research Initiative & Asian Cultural
Council | |

FRIDAY  Oct 19
1 pm   Opening and welcome
1:30    Condolences 慰问 (YING Liang 应亮 , 2010, 19min)
Ying witnessed a traffic accident five years ago and this short film is
about the offering of condolences. In Chinese, “monument” and “sadness”
have the same pronunciation: “bei.” “Condolences” the film was made to
serve as a modest monument.

2 pm    To Justify Bu Qinfu  还卜琴父以美丽  (WANG Yunlong  王云龙 2011,
Bu Qinfu, Wang’s mentor and colleague in Kunming Military Arts Ensemble
during the Cultural  Revolution, was executed because of her dissent. When
the state began to rehabilitate the victims of the  Cultural Revolution,
Bu’s name was never cleared: the army claimed that she died of illness and
the local government described her death as “in the line of duty.” Wang,
who witnessed Bu being escorted to execution, has spent ten years
searching for the truth. Through extensive interviews with the informed
and Bu’s fellow prisoners and relatives, Wang reveals the atrocities
behind Bu’s death.

3:30—4 pm     Q&A  with director Wang Yunlong, moderated by Angela Zito

4 pm   Break

4:15—5:45 pm    The Interceptor from My Hometown 有一种静叫庄严 (Zhang Zanbo
, 2011, 90min)
Toward the end of 2010, Zhang received a call from an old high school
classmate he hadn’t seen in twelve years.  The man was now the vice-mayor
of Zhang’s hometown, and was visiting Beijing. While in the city, he and
Zhang spent hours together, talking over life and politics on camera,
providing an unusually frank and intimate portrayal of the vicissitudes of
small-town government, as well as of a young provincial bureaucrat.

5:45—6:30      Q&A with Producer Zhu Rikun, moderated by Zhang Zhen

SATURDAY   October 20

Special Program: The Memory Project, Caochangdi Workstation Filmmakers

10 –10:30 am  Opening remarks by Wu Wenguang, filmmaker and curator of The
Memory Project

10:30—noon    Self-Portrait: At 47 KM  自画象:47 km (Zhang Mengqi 章梦奇,
After her first documentary, “Self-portrait and Three Women,” Zhang’s
second self-portrait ended in a village named “47 KM,” 47 KM from Suizhou,
Hubei Province, where her father was born. While Zhang’s father has left
the village, her grandfather still lives there. In the summer and winter
of 2010, she went back to rediscover the village and to better understand
the elders who experienced the disastrous famine fifty years ago that
followed the Great Leap Forward.

12- 1   Lunch

1—2:15 pm  Listening to Third Grandmother’s Stories  三奶奶的故事  (Wen Hui
2011, 75min)
While searching for memories her entire family has forgotten, Wen learns
she has a third grandmother, the only one of her grandparent’s generation
still living. Last winter Wen found her third grandmother in a village in
the mountains of Yunnan. Her name is Su Meiling and she is eighty-three
years old. When Wen met her it was as if her third  grandmother had been
waiting for her her whole life. Wen stayed as Su Meiling began to tell her
about her life. Through her stories Wen learned how China’s great changes
have changed one woman’s life.

2:15-2:30 Break  

2:30—4 pm Children’s Village 孩子的村子 (Zou Xueping 邹雪平 2012, 85min)
“Children’s Village,” completes Zou’s Village  Trilogy for The Memory
Project. Returning to her family village in the beginning of 2012, she
investigated the toll of death during the Great Famine. She also solicited
donations for a memorial for those who died. Local children joined in,
taking Zou’s video camera to visit and interview old folks and to get
statistics and donations.  While assisting her, they had their first
opportunity to learn about and appreciate their village’s history. And
unlike the sense of loneliness  Zou felt in the village during her first
two films there, with the help of these “little angels,”  she finally sees
the future and finds hope.

4—6:30  pm  Luo Village: Pitiless Earth and Sky 罗家屋:天地无情  (Luo Bin 罗
2012, 80min)
This sequel to Luo’s first documentary, “Luo Village: Me and Ren Dingqi,”
takes its title from the memoir of Ren Dingqi, who spent ten years
documenting his bone-deep experiences of Land Reform, the Great Leap
Forward, the Great Famine, and the Cultural Revolution. The film attempts
to provide a reading of the memoir and to delve again into the memories of
this witness of history. However, as Luo tries to “expose” this memoir to
fellow villagers, he encounters unexpected responses and finds himself
examining the link between the past and present and wondering whether the
village is still “as pitiless as the earth and sky.”

6:30-7:30 pm   Discussion with Wu, and filmmakers Zhang, Luo and Zou,
moderated by Angela Zito

SUNDAY October 21  

10—12 pm   Cold Winter 暖冬 (Zheng Kuo 郑阔 , 2011, 102min)
>From late 2009 to early 2010, some of the districts  around Beijing’s 798
>Art Zone were subject to forced  demolition and eviction. In extremely
>cold weather, artists protested–and struggled with hesitation and
>internal conflict. When shooting 798 Station in 2009, Zheng bumped into
>the site of this demolition project named “Warm Winter Plan.” Relocation
>in China is nothing new, but violent eviction of artists on such a
>massive scale has been rare.

12-1 pm Lunch

1—3 pm    Five Plus Five  五加五  (Xu Xing  徐星 and Andrea Cavazuti  老安 ,
2011, 85min)
In recent years, Chinese contemporary art has been caught in the spotlight
of the international art market. Forty km from the city of Beijing,
Songzhuang, once an sleepy village, has become a world-famous art
community due to an influx of over 4,000 Chinese and foreign artists. Five
Plus Five captures the everyday life of Old Jin, an unlicensed cab driver
for artists who got into business with a cheap, second-hand car.  Of
course, along the way we are treated to a sly look at the everyday lives
of artists too.

3:15—5:15 pm   Zheteng  折腾   (Wang Wo 王我 , 2010  115min)
Put together as a collage, “Zheteng” features appearances and performances
aired on television and the internet in 2008 from reports and discussions,
accounts and special features. These events have occurred within, and have
affected, the everyday lives of people who will bring their own opinions,
conceptions, and judgments to the film. Although the year 2008 has already
passed, these events still seems present, making one feel that every new
day is like yesterday and that the year 2008 will never end.

5:30—6:30  Q&A with director Wang Wo, moderated by Zhang Zhen

6th Reel China 2012    Second Weekend

FRIDAY  October 26

1 pm   Opening and welcome

1:15—3 pm   My Mother’s Rhapsody 萱堂闲话录 (Qiu Jiongjiong 邱炯炯, 2011,
Painter Qiu’s film is the last episode in his “Chatterbox Trilogy,”
confronting his sixty year-old father and his tenacious eighty year-old
mother. Time is changing and Qiu Jiongjiong’s grandma’s  house has been
demolished. As she looks for a place where she can keep her autonomy and
vitality, she confronts her sons’ families and her own changes in habit,
reconstructing the saga of her life.

 3—3:15 pm  Break

3:15—4:45 pm   The Loves of Mr. An 老安 (Yang Lina 杨 荔钠, 2007, 88min)
Continuing  the theme of her award-winning documentary “Old Men,”  Yang
Lina follows the ninety-year-old Mr. An on his visits to the public
dancing place in the Temple of Heaven Park in Beijing, where he meets Mrs.
Wei. After becoming dancing partners, the two develop a special

4:45—5:30 pm  Q&A with filmmaker YANG Lina, moderated by Zhang Zhen

6:30—10:30 pm    Evening Program
The  Unfinished History of Life    未完成的生活史  (Cong Feng 从峰,2011,
Shot in the same place as Cong’s previous film, “Doctor Ma’s Country
Clinic,” “The Unfinished History of Life” shows the lives of Cong’s local
friends in Huangyangchuan township, Gansu Province, Northwest China. Over
a four-year period, Cong filmed local high school teachers and ex-teachers
who found themselves transferred to the countryside, to create an intimate
 portrait of provincial Chinese lives.

SATURDAY October  27

Special Program:  A Day with Pema Tseden’s Independent Cinema

10 am—12 pm  The Silent Holy Stones is 静静的嘛呢石 (2005, 102’  1hr 42’)
A young Tibetan Monk goes home for the New Year, and is so completely
fascinated by the family TV and VCR, and the tale of Monkey’s Journey to
the West, that we fear he will no longer manage to keep  his religious
vocation. Tseden’s first fiction feature film as been highly awarded for
its many-layered script, its beautiful photography and the gently humorous
performances he coaxed from mostly non-professional actors.

12-1 pm  LUNCH

1—1:30 pm  The Grasslands 草原 (2004,  22’)
Pema Tseden’s student film gives us an early glimpse of his filmmaking
talents. Ama Tsomo’s “liberated” yak has been stolen, and he and his
equally aged wife are going to get it back. Since the yak had been
released from slaughter in the Buddhist gesture of “liberating life” for
animals usually used for food, the thieves have committed a double crime.
How Tseden solves this dilemma presents a glimpse into much older ways of
being in Tibet.

1:30-3:30  The Search 寻找智美更登  (2009, 117’)
Shot in a documentary-style near Qinghai Lake in the far western Chinese
province of Qinghai — where Pema Tseden was born — the movie follows a
film crew looking for a singer to perform the part of Tibetan opera
character Prince Drime Kunden. This deeply symbolic character epitomizes
selflessness and the virtue of charity, and not surprisingly, the
traveling crew has a hard time finding anyone suited to the role. Part
road movie, as they roll along the endless highways of Qinghai, part
“American Idol” as we see quite a few hilarious auditions, we find
ourselves in a Tibet that is far from the usual stereotypes.

3:30 Break

3:45–5:30  Old Dog 老狗 (2011,  88’)

5:30–6:30   Discussion with director Pema Tseden, Hao Jian (Beijing Film
Academy), Robbie Barnett, (Columbia University),  moderated by Angela Zito

SUNDAY   Oct 28

10:30 am—12 pm    The Next Life 活着 (Fan Jian 范俭, 2011, 81min)
In the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, 5,335 students were killed. Ye Hongmei’s
8-year old daughter was among those killed in quake. This film follows her
and her friends’ attempts to have more children in the wake of that
horror.  Ye, forty years old, is starting her second IVF treatment to get
pregnant. Refusing to come to terms with the reality of her  daughter’s
death, Ye clings to the desperate of pregnancy as though it would raise
the dead. The  psychological and physical ordeal of the fertility
treatments wear upon her and her husband, and the film keeps us on the
edge, wondering what the outcome will be.

Noon-1:30 pm LUNCH

1:30—3:00 pm I Beat a Tiger When I was Young 我年轻时也打老虎 (薛鉴羌 Xue
alias Kokoka, 2010,  75min)
An enfant terrible of the independent filmmaking scene, Xue Jianqiang went
after a number of prize winning documentary filmmakers to see how they
would respond to negative criticism. In his attempt to “realistically
document human arrogance” as he puts it, he turns the tables on the
directors who are used to filming other people’s lives. Indeed, they did
not like it very much.

3:00—3:40 pm No Private Houses in My Country (何利仁 He Liren,  2011 40min)
No phenomenon exists in isolation; the tragedy of forced relocation has
its own distinct institutional background. Seeing homes and lives
destroyed, the director asks: “Why are  Chinese people so powerless to
even protect our own homes?” He’s film shows how the rights to private
property have changed in China during the past 60 years when political
power is greater than the law. His lesson:  Sooner or later, every one of
us could be a homeless victim

4—5 pm Discussion with director He Liren and Hao Jian (Beijing Film
Academy, moderated by Zhang Zhen

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