Tales from the New Chinese Cinema in LA


Los Angeles, March 2011 – As part of the series Between Disorder and Unexpected Pleasures: Tales from the New Chinese Cinema, curated by Cheng-Sim Lim and Bérénice Reynaud, Filmforum will host the United States premiere of the Chinese film “Treating” (Zhi Liao) by Wu Wenguang.  It will be playing with the new animated film by Sun Xun: “Beyond-ism.”

In recent years, independent Chinese cinema has experienced a virtual explosion. Digital media have allowed filmmakers to be bolder, more daring and to explore hybrid forms of documentary and fiction, or mix found and live footage while playing with novel formal strategies. Independent Chinese cinema has also come of age. Reaching beyond nostalgia and social protest, it plumbs surprising corners of Chinese reality with humor that is at times light, dark, saucy, dry, raunchy or conceptual. Expect the unexpected.           

Los Angeles Filmforum presents the U.S. premiere of: “Treating” (Zhi Liao) by Wu Wenguang, with “Beyond-ism “(Zhuyi zhiwai) by Sun Xun
Sunday April 10, 2011, 7:30 pm At the Spielberg Theater at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd. (at Las Palmas), Los Angeles CA 90028

More information at www.lafilmforum.org Admission $10 general, $6 students/seniors, free for Filmforum members. Advance ticket purchase available through Brown Paper Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/164837
“Treating” (Zhi Liao) (2010, 80 min., DVD) Written, directed, edited by: Wu Wenguang, Photographed by: Wu Wenguang, Wen Hui, Zou Xueping, Tang Zhi.  “The film was triggered by my desire to explore the deep emotions caused by my mother’s death in 2007. The focus shifted as was I was sorting through the 12 years of footage I had collected, seeing subtleties I had previously overlooked, or reliving past experiences… Then I realized this film is not just about remembering my mother—it’s also an experiment to bring her back to life. As I am trying to heal myself, my mother is a crucial element. And so, through my mother/ remembrance/the present/healing and self-healing, this film’s structure and way of recounting began to organically materialize.” (Wu Wenguang)

As the filmmaker engages in a self-reflexive analysis of old diaries and intimate footage, he also plunges into recollections of his experiences during the Cultural Revolution – another incisive merging of proletarian history and personal cinema by one of the founders and spiritual leaders of the “New Chinese Documentary Movement.”
A former schoolteacher and TV journalist Wu Wenguang (born 1956) spontaneously recreated the aesthetics of cinema vérité with the epoch-making “Bumming in Beijing – The Last Dreamers” (Liulang Beijing – Zuihou De Mengxiangzhe, 1990) and its follow-up, “At Home in the World” (Shihai Weijia, 1995). Starting with the portrait of five young marginalized artists, he depicts the existential angst, creativity and cultural displacement that characterized his generation after June 1989. “1966, My Time in the Red Guards ” (1966, Wo de hongweibing shidai, 1993, shown at the Los Angeles Filmforum in 1997) recalls the memories of former teenage Red Guards swept by history. For Jiang Hu: “on the Road” (Jiang Hu, 1999), Wu lived for months with the members of an impoverished ‘Song and Dance Company’ as they lived and performed throughout China.

In 1994, Wu co-founded The Living Dance Studio with his partner, dancer/choreographer Wen Hui, and together they conceived the performance/video “Dance with Farm Workers “(He Mingong Tiaowu, 2002). In 2005, they founded Coachangdi Workstation, combining a studio/rehearsal space, an independent video archive, training/educational facilities for videomakers and a yearly performance and documentary festival. In 2006, Wu launched the Villagers Documentary Project, in which peasants and students were given the tools to produce video documents about their own communities (the first installment of which was shown at REDCAT in 2007). After the controversial “Fuck Cinema” (2006, shown at REDCAT in our previous “New Chinese Cinema” film series), Wu stopped directing films himself, until he (re)discovered the concept of “personal cinema” and started working in this vein with Treating and Bare Your Stuff (2010).

Preceded by: “Beyond-ism” (Zhuyi zhiwai) (Animation, 2010, 8.8 min., DVD) “In Sun Xun’s magical world, which mixes up references to Mao’s poetry, ancient China and tales from Japan, it is the magician who rules the world.”  – Rotterdam International Film Festival
After studying printmaking at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, Sun Xun (born 1980) founded the animation studio Pi in 2006. His meticulous animations have been shown in festivals in China, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, and media art centers in the US. His drawings and installations have been exhibited in galleries and museums in China, Europe and the U.S. He had his first film retrospective in the US at REDCAT in October 2009.

Sun Xun conceived “Beyond-ism” while he was an artist-in-residence in Yokohama. The first part of the project consists of 10 huge ink drawings and frames of animation video. The second part is made of the drawings for the animation. The third part is the video. In Xun’s recent solo exhibition at ShanghArt Gallery in Beijing (Jan 16-March 6), the whole process was combined with a site-specific drawing.
For the screenings at the Egyptian Theater: Parking is now easiest at the Hollywood & Highland complex. Bring your ticket for validation. Parking is $2 for 4 hours with validation. Enter that complex on Highland or Hollywood. The theater is 1.5 blocks east.
This screening series is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support generously provided by American Cinematheque.
Los Angeles Filmforum is the city’s longest-running organization screening experimental and avant-garde film and video art, documentaries, and experimental animation.  2010 is our 34th year.
Memberships available, $60 single or $95 dual

This program is part of the series Between Disorder and Unexpected Pleasures: Tales from the New Chinese Cinema, curated by Cheng-Sim Lim and Bérénice Reynaud. Funded in part with generous support from Wendy Keys and Donald Pels.

Bérénice Reynaud is the author of “New Chinas/New Cinemas “(1999) and “Hou Hsiao-hsien’s A City of Sadness” (2002). She teaches at the California Institute of the Arts, co-curates with Steve Anker the film and video programs at REDCAT, and was an early champion of the Sixth Generation Mainland filmmakers.

Malaysian born curator, lighting electrician, journalist and painter, Cheng Sim Lim has co-curated (with Bérénice Reynaud) an annual series of Mainland Chinese films since her days as programmer than Head of Programming at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Her two part series  “Heroic Grace: The Chinese Martial Arts Cinema” (2003 and 2006) brought restored Shaw Bros. martial arts classics to the big screen for the first time in over 20 years
The series runs from April 6 thru May 1 at the following institutions throughout the greater Los Angeles area and New York City:
REDCAT www.redcat.org; 631 West 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 – 213.237.2800 – Wed Apr 6 | 8:30 pm
Zhu Wen: “Thomas Mao” (Xiao Dongxi) – Preceded by:  Sun Xun: “21G” (21 KE) – In person: Zhu Wen
Los Angeles premiere | 2010, 80 min., DigiBeta
One of the most original voices of post-socialist China, novelist/filmmaker Zhu Wen has crafted, for his third feature, a droll, surreal and ironic tale in which East meets West . . . or does it? Thomas is a painter trekking through the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, and Mao the scruffy “innkeeper” who lodges him. Gradually, what appears to be “reality” shifts. Who is the butterfly, who is the philosopher?

Sun Xun: “21G” (21 KE) Sun Xun’s dark dystopian animation is based on the research of American physician, Dr. Duncan MacDougall, who claimed to have measured the weight of the human soul as 21 grams. A trickster magician, steam punk images, giant insects and Tiananmen Square merge in an atemporal meditation on lies and propaganda.
Thur Apr 7 | 8:30 pm
Los Angeles premiere | 2010, 91 min., HDCAM
Li Hongqi: “Winter Vacation” (Hanjia)
Slackers in Inner Mongolia meet the poetry of the absurd. In a dreary little northern town, kids have nothing to do . . . while the adults are wily or apathetic. For his third feature, poet/filmmaker Li Hongqi effortlessly leads the viewer through a series of breathtaking tableaux in which tension accumulates and then releases in unexpected, and often wickedly funny, ways.
Fri Apr 8 | 8:30 pm
Liu Jiayin: “Oxhide II “(Niupi II)
In person : Liu Jiayin
Los Angeles premiere | 2009, 133 min., DigiBeta
In 2004, at 23, Liu Jiayin stunned the world by shooting Oxhide in CinemaScope in her parents’ 50-square-meter apartment. She is back at REDCAT with an even bolder “sequel.” More tightly constructed—nine shots that go around a kitchen/workshop/dining table in 45-degree increments, performing a complete 180-degree match—Oxhide II is also dryly humorous, intelligent and insightful, deconstructing the dynamics of a family in crisis.           
A special screening of “Oxhide I” will be organized at the California Institute of the Arts, Bijou Theater, 24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia, CA, on Friday April 8, at 4:00 pm, followed with a Q & A with Liu Jiayin
Directions: (661)255-1050
Sat Apr 9 | 3:00 pm
Hao Jie: “Single Man” (Guangyun)
U.S. premiere | 2010, 95 min., HDCAM
“This is a strange and delightful thing from China: a sex comedy, bawdy and a little raunchy, about four elderly farmers . . . all non-professional actors playing fictionalized versions of themselves. New director Hao Jie, with a bit of Boccaccio and a dollop of Rabelais, reveals a side of rural China you’ve probably never seen before . . . Chinese indie cinema at its most wryly entertaining.” —Vancouver International Film Festival
Sat Apr 9 | 7:00 pm
Huang Weikai: “Disorder” (Xian Zai Shi Guo Qu De Wei Lai) – Preceded by: Ying Liang: “Condolences” (Wei Wen)
Los Angeles premiere | 2009, 58 min., DVCAM
A splendid, original experiment on how to translate urban texture on the screen. Huang Weikai collected more than 1,000 hours of footage shot by amateurs and journalists in the streets of Guangzhou. He then selected 20-odd incidents, reworked the images into quasi-surreal grainy black-and-white and montaged them to create a kaleidoscopic view of the great southern metropolis, in all her vibrant, loud and mean chaos.

Ying Liang: “Condolences” (Wei Wen) “Bereaved Grandma Chen sits impassively while a TV crew, an official delegation and several workmen buzz around her, in one brilliant virtuoso shot.” Shelly Kraicer programmer “Dragons and Tigers” (Chinese language films) at the Vancouver International Film Festival  (VIFF)

Sat Apr 9 | 9:30 pm
Jia Zhangke: “I Wish I Knew” (Hai Shang Chuan Qi)
Los Angeles premiere | 2010, 138 min., HDCAM
China’s most significant filmmaker of the decade has done it again, with another alluring hybrid of documentary and fiction. Here Jia weaves a dense texture between amorously shot footage of contemporary Shanghai and the films the city created or inspired. Peeking through the gaps of an architecture menaced by permanent urban renewal, he finds the traces of a romantic or brutal past, and echoes the voices of survivors or those who went into exile.
Echo Park Film Center-1200 N Alvarado St. (@ Sunset Blvd.)
Los Angeles, CA. 90026
 (213) 484 – 8846  www.echoparkfilmcenter.org
Mon Apr 11 | 8:00 pm
Sheng Zhimin: “Night of an Era” (Zaijian Wutuobang) (2009)
Chinese documentarian Sheng Zhimin surveys the development of Chinese rock & roll in the past decade. Using the death of guitarist Xiao Ke from the band Dreaming, Sheng Zhimin Interviews some of the key figures in the early years of Chinese rock & roll (Cui Jian, He Yong, Zhang Chu and Dou Wei).

Pomona College Museum of Art / Media Studies
Pomona College Rose Hills Theatre, Smith Campus Center
170 E. Sixth St., Claremont CA 91711
1-909-607-2212   www.pomona.edu/museum/

Mon Apr 11 | 7:30 pm
Liu Jiayin: “Oxhide II” (Niupi II)
In person : Liu Jiayin
Tue Apr 12 | 7:30 pm
Zhu Wen: “Thomas Mao “(Xiao Dongxi)
Preceded by: Sun Xun: “21G “(21 KE)
In person: Zhu Wen
Wed Apr 13 | 7:30 pm
Jia Zhangke: “I Wish I Knew” (Hai Shang Chuan Qi)
Thu Apr 14 | 7:30 pm
Huang Weikai: “Disorder”(Xian Zai Shi Guo Qu De Wei Lai)
Preceded by: Ying Liang: “Condolences” (Wei Wen)
Pomona College Museum of Art’s Projection Room: ongoing looped projection of Chinese animation, installation video, and documentary 

UCLA Film & Television Archive   Billy Wilder Theater
Located at the Courtyard Level of the Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90024

Sun Apr 17 | 7:00 pm
Olivier Meys and Zhang Yaxuan: “A Disappearance Foretold”
(Qian Men Qian)Qianmen does not only refer to the city gate to the south of Tiananmen Square, but also the area southeast of the gate itself. Before the Qianmen demolition and relocation project started in September 2005, there were approximately 80,000 inhabitants living there, most of them were local residents who had inhabited the hutongs for several generations or for a great portion of their lives. Located in the very centre of Beijing, this relatively impoverished neighbourhood – hutoung – with an aged infrastructure and dense population has had to come to terms with the inevitability of modernization. “A Disappearance Foretold” follows the slow and tough process of this transformation, observing silently what it means to the people who still live here. Belgian filmmaker Olivier Meys is Belgian, born in 1974, and educated as a film director from Institut des Arts de Diffusion in Brüssel. Meys has lived in Beijing since 2004. Filmmaker, critic and curator Zhang Yaxuan has a degree in Arts from the Beijing Normal University,
Fri Apr 22 | 7:30 pm
Zhao Ye: “Jalainur” (Zha Lai Nuo Er)
Master Chu is retiring a month early from the open-cut coal mine where he has been working for more than 30 years as a train technician. His apprentice, Zhi-Zhong, whom he shares a father-son-like relationship with, insists on seeing him off, accompanying him along the way to his daughter’s place, somewhere miles away on the border between China and Russia. 29-year-old Zhao Ye’s “Jalainur” has been described as a rapturous expressionist road movie set in one of the biggest coal mines in Inner Mongolia. “it’s also an amazing documentary on North-East China. The film opens inside the driver’s cabin of a mine train, and ends with a beautiful long shot (a moving painting) of the industrial landscape of Jalainur.” (Élise Domenach, from an interview at Pusan in 2008.) Jalainur is a Mongolian word meaning “ocean-like lake.”

Museum of the Moving Image (NY)– www.movingimage.us/
35 Avenue at 37 Street – Astoria, NY 11106
(718) 777-6888

Apr 29-May 1
Schedule TBA – among the films shown:
Zhu Wen: “Thomas Mao” (Xiao Dongxi) with Sun Xun: “21G” (21 KE)
Li Hongqi: “Winter Vacation” (Hanjia)
Liu Jiayin: “Oxhide II” (Niupi II)
Hao Jie: “Single Man| (Guangyun)
Huang Weikai: “Disorder” (Xian Zai Shi Guo Qu De Wei Lai) with Ying Liang: “Condolences” (Wei Wen)
Lu Chuan: “City of Life and Death” (Nanjing! Nanjing!) 
Los Angeles Filmforum is the city’s longest-running organization screening experimental and avant-garde film and video art, documentaries, and experimental animation.  2011 is our 36th year. www.lafilmforum.org and http://www.lafilmforum.org

This screening series is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support generously provided by American Cinematheque.


About Author

Robin Menken

Robin Menken Robin Menken lives in Los Angeles. She was the Artistic Director of the Second City Workshops, taught at UC Berkeley, USC, Barcelona\'s Ateneu and the Esalin Institute. She was Roberto Rossellini\'s assistant, and worked with Yevgeny Vevteshenku, Glauber Rocha and Eugene Ionesco. She sold numerous screenplays and wrote the OBIE winning The FTA SHow (touring with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Ben Vereen.) She was a programming consultant and Special Events co-ordinator for numerous film festivals, including the SF, Rio, Havana and N.Y Film Festivals. Her first news outlet was the historic East Village Other.

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