A luxury cruise boat motors up the Yangtze – navigating the mythic waterway known in China simply as “The River.” The Yangtze is about to be transformed by the biggest hydroelectric dam in history. At the river’s edge – a young woman says goodbye to her family as the floodwaters rise towards their small homestead. The Three Gorges Dam – contested symbol of the Chinese economic miracle – provides the epic backdrop for Up the … Read more
Chai Jing’s documentary about the massive smog problem in China. Chai Jing started making the documentary when her as yet unborn daughter developed a tumour in the womb, which had to be removed very soon after her birth. Chai blames air pollution for the tumour. The film, which combines footage of a lecture with interviews and factory visits, has been compared with Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth in both its style and likely impact. The … Read more
A documentary on China, concentrating mainly on the faces of the people, filmed in the areas they were allowed to visit. The 220 minute version consists of three parts. The first part, taken around Beijing, includes a cotton factory, older sections of the city, and a clinic where a Cesarean operation is performed, using acupuncture. The middle part visits the Red Flag canal and a collective farm in Henan, as well as the old city … Read more
The second of Zhang Yang’s Dali Documentary Trilogy. An orchestra of sound and images of Dali, a symbolic city of romance and art. It includes various sounds including those of nature and human, of different seasons, arts, and all kinds of voice in Dali. There is daring inclusion of the religious voices. The crew filmed in Dali for an entire year. It takes people to a harmonious and peaceful journey. By capturing the voice and … Read more
From New York City to the farmlands of the Midwest, there are 50,000 Chinese restaurants in the U.S., yet one dish in particular has conquered the American culinary landscape with a force befitting its military moniker—“General Tso’s Chicken.” But who was General Tso and how did this dish become so ubiquitous? Ian Cheney’s delightfully insightful documentary charts the history of Chinese Americans through the surprising origins of this sticky, sweet, just-spicy-enough dish that we’ve adopted … Read more
Operating under a pseudonym which means ‘no boundaries’ – North Korean defector Sun Mu creates political pop art based on his life, homeland, and hope for a future united Korea. His hidden identity is nearly compromised when a massive historical exhibit in Beijing is shuttered by Chinese and North Korean authorities.
The documentary shows, without commenting, a China linked to ancient traditions, which nowadays struggle to compete with the rhythm of modern life: villages, customs, music and lifestyles of the minorities Bai, Lisu, Nusu, Miao, Dai , Hani, Naxi, Yi and Hui, before the advent of Chinese mass tourism and the exodus of young people to the metropolis in search of a job opportunity.
Four Springs is a documentary film that presented a family’s daily life in the remote town of Dushan in the Guizhou province in southwest China. From a subjective angle, the camera induced the flow of life out of the screen: the quotidian toils, singing, excursions in nature, visits among friends and extended families, funerals, reunions and departures. It presented the state of being of the two main characters, the director’s own parents, and their attitude … Read more
Years ago, artist Shen Jianhua moved from Shanghai to a remote mountain village. His drawing lessons have a profound effect on the lives of the people who take them. The master painter’s home is an open house for his painting guests. One of Shen’s pupils is impressed by his modern lifestyle and wonders if he and his new wife should move to the city.
A short Hong Kong documentary
Told through the eyes of sticky-fingered eight-year-old boy Big Ears, Echoes of the Rainbow takes place in a close-knit grassroots community in 1960s Hong Kong. Big Ears’ mother and father run the neighborhood shoe store, and his older brother Desmond is every family’s dream son – an outstanding athlete with grades worthy of Hong Kong’s best school.
The Dream Never Sets is another highly personal documentary from Wu Wuna, this time focusing on her father, who has claimed to be an inventor of note for as long as she can remember. A somewhat lighter, though equally complex offering, the film reviews her difficult relationship with the man who introduced sex toys to Taiwan and who now dreams of marketing the ultimate food blender around the world. The film sees Wu laying bare … Read more
Acclaimed Taiwanese documentarian Wuna Wu lifts the lid on the peculiar ecological education program ”Love for Earth”, initiated by Taiwan’s construction industry. The project leader Xiujuan assembles well-known ecosystem photographers, musicians and documentary filmmakers, and asks them to discuss their ideas and work to representatives of the construction industry. Of course, most of them tell her that the construction industry is the biggest destroyer of the environment, however under Xiujuan’s efforts, a dialogue opens up … Read more
Happy or Not? is Wu Wuna’s second film, and the deserving winner of the Best Documentary Award at the Taipei Film Festival. Wu’s own sympathetic personality wins her intimate access to a widow struggling to look after two schizophrenic adult children. Surprisingly light yet profoundly moving, Happy or Not? takes us beyond the myths and prejudices to understand an ordinary but extraordinary family trying to get the assistance they need and cope with the consequences … Read more
It was a life of endless work. Only when they could finally relax some- what, vital questions started to emerge. China Reverse questions everything, without asking much. Life could have been so different – not in Europe, but in China. Those who stayed, took advantage of the economic boom. For some, there’s still time to jump on the bandwagon. China Reverse looks behind the facade of financial success, noticing casual details, an antique porcelain dish, … Read more
A contemplative trip down memory lane with one of the leading voices of the Second New Wave of Taiwanese Cinema. Saw Tiong Guan clearly established a very personal bond with his subject, and also found many of Tsai Ming-liang’s colleagues prepared to complete this portrait of a quiet yet outspoken artist.
They sacrificed their lives fighting for the independence of their country, but their stories remain untold for 60 years. The story begins with a man’s portrait, which has been hanging for more than 30 years in an old wooden house where I was born and grew up in Perak, Malaysia. It’s long become a taboo that my families do not talk about this man, not even to bring up his name or his past. Eventually … Read more
A civil war has been smouldering for decades in Myanmar’s Kokang region, which is home to the Ta’ang people (also known as the Palaung). When their lives are once again in danger in spring 2015, it’s mostly the women and children who flee over the border to China. Wang Bing accompanies a few of these communities thrown together by fate, at once modern and almost mythical and archaic. They wander the remote mountains with few … Read more
The daily life of three little sisters, YING, ZHEN and FEN, who live alone in a small village family house in the Yunnan province in China. The father works in the valley a few hundred kilometers down the mountain and the mother has left long ago. The little girls don’t go to school, spending their days working in the fields or wondering in the village. Quite and patient, YING takes care of her two sisters … Read more
Throughout Maoist China’s turbulent history, the artist Mu Xin sacrificed everything to create his art. While illegally imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution, he risked his life writing and painting while in solitary confinement. It was through his artistic faith that he survived this period, while so many others did not. He has avoided speaking of the horrors he has seen – until now. A documentary portrait by OSCAR® Nominated filmmakers Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello, … Read more
In Gansu Province, northwest China, lie the remains of countless prisoners abandoned in the Gobi Desert sixty years ago. Designated as “ultra-rightists” in the Communist Party’s Anti-Rightist campaign of 1957, they starved to death in the Jiabiangou and Mingshui reeducation camps. The film invites us to meet the survivors of the camps to find out firsthand who these persons were, the hardships they were forced to endure and what became their destiny.
Where are the found stories in a world of constant surveillance? Installation artist Xu Bing pits this watching world – 10,000 hours of found footage from 28,000 cameras across China uploaded to the cloud – against simple melodrama, young love and fragility. The story is read into an embroidered quilt of clips where time clocks spin at random. Even as we deal with a new narrative, the backgrounds fascinate us with their mosaic of materials … Read more
In our race towards modernity, amidst all the technological innovation and the rapid growth of our cities, silence is now quickly passing into legend. Beginning with an ode to John Cage’s seminal silent composition 4’33”, the sights and sounds of this film delicately interweave with silence to create a contemplative and cinematic experience that works its way through frantic minds and into the quiet spaces of hearts. As much a work of devotion as it … Read more
TWENTY TWO follows the lives of the elderly survivors who were forced into sex slavery as “Comfort Women” by the Japanese during World War II. At the time of filming, only 22 of these women were still alive to tell their story; through their own personal histories and perspectives, they tell a tale that should never be forgotten to generations unaware of the brutalization that occurred.
An observational essay shot in the southwestern city of Chongqing, CHINA CONCERTO probes the uses of public spectacle in contemporary China. Born and raised in Chongqing, filmmaker Bo Wang visited his hometown at the height of now-disgraced politician Bo Xilai’s campaign to revive Mao-era “red culture”, promoting among other things the public singing and dancing of Communist songs. Alongside these participatory street performances, CHINA CONCERTO looks at images from the media, including Michelangelo Antonioni’s Chung … Read more
Three students seek the wisdom of Tibetan Buddhist master, soccer aficionado and filmmaker Khyentse Norbu in this captivating documentary, which takes viewers on a journey from the World Cup in Germany to the isolated Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan. Bernardo Bertolucci and Steven Seagal make appearances in the film, and the world music soundtrack is provided by Sting, Tara Slone and Joydrop, Steve Tibbetts, U.Man.Tek, Kunga 19 and many others.