This China Now: Independent Visions tour is modelled on how independent cinema is exhibited in China today. Savvy programmers, producers, and filmmakers have taken to organizing informal networks of screenings to get their works into distribution. In China, packages of new indie films are circulated to an ad hoc collection of art galleries, campus screening clubs, and enterprising independent art spaces, through China’s first, second, and third tier cities, finding local audiences through a new model of grassroots, artisanal exhibition circuits.
That’s what we propose to do with China Now: Independent Visions. We are making available the complete package of 29 Cinema On The Edge curated films to venues around the world, and working with their curators and programmers to tailor a selection suitable to each venue.
The films we are bringing to audiences around the world are a collection of illuminating documentaries, brilliant shorts, and spellbinding fiction features from the last four years of Chinese independent cinema. Independent Chinese filmmakers are inventing new ways of mobilizing, adapting, and innovating film languageunder pressure from the incredibly rapid and fundamental changes Chinese society is undergoing. These films do various things: intensely engaged meta-journalism, alternative history-making, genre-defying performance/documentary art hybridization, and visually playful experimentalism. All of the films interrogate how cinema art can and should stand against the real, all stretch cinema art under the pressure of seemingly un-representable new Chinese realities, and all invent images and sounds that try to keep up with a present that is changing before our eyes. And it’s not just Chinese realities. China now is actively engaged with and is shaping our own future at the same time.
Shelly Kraicer is a Canadian writer, critic, and film curator. He was born in Toronto, Canada and has a degree in philosophy from Yale University. He moved to Beijing to study Chinese in 2003 and stayed for 11 years. He has studied Chinese language at the University of Toronto, Beijing Language University, and the International Chinese Language program at the National Taiwan University. He programmed the Chinese-language films for the Vancouver International Film Festival for 8 years and has curated special programs on the Fourth Generation, Johnnie To, and Chinese independent cinema for International Film Festival Rotterdam, IndieLisboa, and BAFICI Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival respectively. He has also been a consultant for the Venice, Udine, Dubai, and Rotterdam film festivals. Shelly has served on many film festival competition juries in Sydney, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Toronto. His film criticism, focussing on new Chinese-language films, has appeared in journals such as Cinema Scope, Positions, Cineaste, the Village Voice, Screen International, and the New York Times.
Karin Chien is a producer and distributor committed to championing independent voices from around the world. Karin is the recipient of the Independent Spirit Producer’s Award, and the producer of ten independent feature films, including STONES IN THE SUN (2012), JACK AND DIANE (2012), CIRCUMSTANCE (2011), THE EXPLODING GIRL (2009), THE MOTEL (2005) and ROBOT STORIES (2002). Her films have won over 100 festival awards, premiered at the Sundance and Berlin Films Festivals, been nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards and received distribution in over 30 countries. Karin is the founder/president of dGenerate Films, the leading distributor of independent cinema from mainland China, and a co-creator of the Cinema on the Edge series. Karin is also the creator & director of the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) Fellowship, a mentoring program for emerging Asian American media professionals. Karin is based in Los Angeles and teaches Producing at Loyola Marymount University and Temple University.
J.P. Sniadecki is a filmmaker, anthropologist, and professor of documentary media at Northwestern University in Chicago. His films, which include Demolition / Chaiqian (2008), Foreign Parts (with Verena Paravel, 2010), People’s Park (with Libbie Cohn, 2012), Yumen (with Huang Xiang and Xu Ruotao, 2013) and The Iron Ministry (2014), have won many awards at festivals around the world. His work has been featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennale, the 2014 Shanghai Biennale, the UCCA in Beijing, the MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Natural History in New York, and a special section of BIFF 2012. He has written on Chinese independent cinema for Cinema Scope, Visual Anthropology Review, 电影作者 and DV-Made China (Hawaii University Press).
The best and most suitable audience for Chinese independent films is certainly my fellow Chinese. It’s regrettable that, since festivals in China are restricted, the opportunity for cinematic works and local audiences to encounter each other is so small.
-Cong Feng (Stratum 1: The Visitors)