China Now: Independent Visions at the University of Oregon

20-21 October 2016

Eugene, Oregon, USA

Presented with the support of CAPS (Jeremiah/NRC), Academic Affairs, EALL, Asian Studies and Oregon Humanities Center’s Endowment for Public Outreach in the Arts, Sciences and Humanities.

Nü daoyan

Directed by Yang Mingming
2012, 43 min, digital.
In Chinese with English subtitles.

Two brilliant young women, art school graduates with deliciously profane vocabularies and supreme confidence, talk sex, cinema, and power, as they wield their shared video camera like a scalpel. Yang Mingming’s superb debut is hilarious, moving, and subversive: is it documentary or fiction, or something new that violates both modes with gleeful abandon?

2:30pm on 20 October 2016 at the Ford Lecture Hall, Jordan Schnitzer Museum, with a discussion after the screening with curator Shelly Kraicer and Professor Bryna Goodman

Tang huang you difu

Directed by Luo Li
2012, 67 min, digital.
In Chinese with English subtitles.

Winner of the 2012 Vancouver International Film Festival’s Dragons & Tigers Prize, this is a quietly astonishing tour de force that hinges on a lovely conceit: relocating to the present day the famous story of the Tang dynasty Emperor Taizong’s visit to the underworld. Shot in elegant, black-and-white long takes, the film spins a tale of a local river god, the Dragon King, who, feuding with a fortune teller, alters the weather without authorization and is condemned to death. When the Emperor fails to commute the god’s sentence, otherworldly retribution is swift: he is summoned to Hell. Li’s audacious use of multiple levels of storytelling and filmmaking craftily and joyously subverts every authority around.

3:30pm on 20 October 2016 at the Ford Lecture Hall, Jordan Schnitzer Museum, with a discussion following the screening with Professor Wendy Larson and curator Shelly Kraicer

Wo guxiangde sizhong siwang fangshi

Directed by Chai Chunya
2012, 90 min, digital.
In Gansu dialect with English subtitles.

A four-part fiction film that’s as much poetry as it is narrative, first-time filmmaker Chai Chunya’s gorgeous work evokes four characters – a poet, a searcher, a puppet master, and a shaman – each with intense, mystical, deeply-rooted spiritual links to the land (the film was shot in and around Gansu province) mediated by the four elemental symbols: earth, water, fire, and wind. The film’s logic is associative, dreamlike; Chai builds up a series of striking tableaux, hypnotically suggestive and pictorially spectacular. Two young women lose a camel, then a father. A retired shadow puppeteer meets a gun-toting tree thief. Storytellers and shamans evoke a lost spiritual world that Chai films back to life in spectacular visual motifs whose meanings are intuited, like deeply felt communal memories.

7:15pm on 20 October 2016 at the Ford Lecture Hall, Jordan Schnitzer Museum, with a discussion following the screening with Professor Alison Groppe and curator Shelly Kraicer

Renmin gongyuan

Directed by J.P. Sniadecki & Libbie Cohn
2012, 78 min, digital.
In Sichuanese and Mandarin Chinese.

This is an experimental, structuralist documentary shot in People’s Park, Chengdu, Sichuan, in one single, bravura take lasting 75 minutes by two young American directors. Their camera captures the fullness of Chinese urban leisure life. As the camera pans side to side and glides relentlessly forward through the park, it catches hundreds of Chinese urbanites out for fun, relaxation, socializing, and a certain kind of freedom: eating, strolling, singing, practicing calligraphy, and watching each other. Watching becomes dancing, as the film slowly gathers an ecstatic, trance-like groove, building to a rapturous climax, as people, movement, music, image, and sound mix together: this is as close to pure pleasure as cinema gets.

2:00pm on 21 October 2016 at the Ford Lecture Hall, Jordan Schnitzer Museum

Shengming de heliu

Directed by Yang Pingdao
2014, 101 min, digital, colour
In Mandarin Chinese and Cantonees English subtitles.

Yang Pingdao is one of China’s most exciting emerging young filmmakers. His astonishingly creative camera eye brings unexpected beauty to his new feature length film. Using an innovative structure, based on the distinctive texture of family memory through space and time, Yang invents something poised delicately between fiction and documentary to capture crystallized moments in his family history, to recreate in cinematic form its emotional weight and variety, woven around the life and death of his grandmother, and the birth of his child. In order to combine extended family chronicle, implicit national history, and intimate soul-bearing autobiography, Yang employs gentle formal experimentation to invent new cinematic pathways.  Opening film and prize winner of Beijing Independent Film Festival 2014; Best Feature Film Prize, China Independent Film Festival 2014.

4:00pm on 21 October 2016 at the Ford Lecture Hall, Jordan Schnitzer Museum


Ford Lecture Hall, Jordan Schnitzer Museum
1430 Johnson Lane
Eugene, Oregon, USA

The beauty of independent cinema lies in its independence. The opposite of this independence is a media controlled by a propaganda mechanism under centralized command. Independence, exploration, and discovery grant you freedom.

Hu Jie (Spark)