Now Playing: New Chinese Cinema on Fandor

In conjunction with the screening series New Tales of Chinese Cinema screening this weekend at the Museum of the Moving Image, I produced two video essays exploring films from the series, both published at Moving Image Source. The series includes Disorder by Huang Weikai and Oxhide II by Liu Jiayin, both distributed by dGenerate Films, a company I happen to also work for as a programming executive. Thus it pleases me to announce that dGenerate is now streaming Chinese independent films available on Fandor, starting with two wonderful documentaries: Super, Girls! and Crime and Punishment. Expect many more critically acclaimed titles to become available in the coming weeks.

Super, Girls! (directed by Jian Yi) follows ten female teenagers on their quest to become instant superstars on China’s biggest television show. The Chinese equivalent of “American Idol.” Drawing over 400 million viewers, the show’s runaway popularity spurred the Chinese government to ban it after only two seasons. The film provides unparalleled, intimate access into the contestants’ lives over several months. Through candid interviews and footage of nail-biting auditions and competitions, Super, Girls! offers a fascinating look inside what the Chinese media have dubbed “the Lost Generation” and their startling takes on sexuality and success in the new China.

Watch Super, Girls! on Fandor:

Crime and Punishment (directed by Zhao Liang) shows how Chinese military police enforce the law with a heavy hand, leading to moments of harrowing abuse and surreal satire. Amidst the barren wintry landscape of Northeast China, Chinese military police officers rigidly enforce law and order in an impoverished mountain town. They raid a private residence to bust an illegal mahjong game, casually abuse a pickpocket accused of throwing away evidence and berate a confession out of a scrap collector working without a permit. The police switch between precise investigative procedure, explosions of violent fury and moments of comic ineptitude, all captured incredibly before the camera. A prime example of how independent documentaries are on the vanguard of Chinese cinema, Crime and Punishment is an unprecedented look at the everyday workings of law enforcement in the world’s largest authoritarian society. With penetrating camerawork, Zhao Liang (Petition, 2009 Cannes Film Festival) patiently reveals the methods police use to interrogate and coerce suspects to confess crimes and the consequences when such techniques backfire.

Watch Crime and Punishment on Fandor:

Here are the two video essays I produced for Moving Image Source. The related film series “New Tales of Chinese Cinema” screens at the Museum of the Moving Image from April 29 through May 1.

New Beginnings: Opening moments from contemporary Chinese cinema

Slow Food: David Bordwell on Oxhide II

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