Structuring Strategies Focuses on Independent Chinese Cinema

The World. 2004. China/Japan/France. Directed by Jia Zhangke

Still from 'The World.' 2004. China/Japan/France. Directed by Jia Zhangke.

Tonight the Structuring Strategies screening series welcomes CalArts’ School of Film/Video faculty member Bérénice Reynaud, who’ll deliver a multimedia presentation on independent Chinese cinema, featuring the works of a new generation of filmmakers: Wang Bing, Jia Zhangke, Ou Ning, Cao Fei, Ying Liang and Cui Zi’en.

The program—Ruins in Independent Chinese Cinema—will examine the works of artists who are using digital media to “coin hybrid forms between documentary and fiction” and how new cinema addresses the Chinese phenomenon of creating ruins as part of planned urban renewal.

In these films, this concept of ruins is both figurative and literal, as China moves from an agrarian to urban culture, and emerges as a 21st century superpower. While the need for buildings and infrastructure is great, sometimes the price is steep:

  • The construction of the Three-Gorges Dam was made possible by the destruction and flooding of 1,200 communities in the area, forcing the evacuation of 1.24 million residents.
  • Traditional neighborhoods were razed in order to prepare for the 2010 Beijing Olympics as well as as the recent World’s Fair and expo in Shanghai.
  • The shift from heavy industry to service-oriented businesses has precipitated the closing down of factories, mills and production plants, with those sites and workers’ housing quarters redeveloped for new uses.

The film clip below is from Cui Zi’en‘s 2007 documentary, We are the…of Communism. In this politically charged film (by traditional Chinese standards), Cui Zi’en follows the mysterious closing of a Beijing school and the displaced migrant children’s rights to education. From the film’s website:

These students face both social and administrative prejudice due to their families’ marginalized status. They are typically relegated to makeshift schools for migrants, with poor facilities and sporadic shutdowns by local officials. Following the personal journeys of students as they battle bureaucratic corruption for their right to learn, Cui exposes a crisis of social values in the wake of China’s economic reforms.

Structuring Strategies: Ruins in Independent Chinese Cinema with Bérénice Reynaud
CalArts Bijou Theater
Tonight (Tuesday, Feb. 1)
7 pm

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