Video: Chinese Independents


This year has seen the best and worst of times for Chinese independent cinema. In May, director Ying Liang was threatened with arrest if he returned to China after premiering his controversial new film When Night Falls in Korea (the film recently won two awards at the Locarno Film Festival and will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival in September). Earlier this month, documentary maker Hu Jie was prevented from leaving China to present his work in Nepal. (He managed to deliver a stirring address to the Nepalese audience via proxy.)

On the flip side, the Melbourne International Film Festival delivered a showcase of several Chinese indie documentaries that met enthusiastic response from both the Australian press and moviegoers. The success of those screenings provided a marked contrast to what transpired only a week later, when the 9th Beijing Independent Film Festival was shut down by authorities on its opening day, leading to a bizarre week that had festival officials and audiences trying to stay one step ahead of the law – all for the sake of being able to watch movies. The following video, filmed on site, delivers some of the details. You can also read an initial report of the shutdown and an interview with festival head Li Xianting.

As observed in the video, one prevailing irony is that in some respects it is easier to access these groundbreaking works of independent cinema outside of the country in which they were produced. Fandor’s catalog features a healthy-sized lineup of Chinese independent films, including those by beleaguered filmmakers Ying Liang and Hu Jie. The following is a list of Chinese independent films currently available on Fandor. Click here for a full list of mainland Chinese productions viewable on the site.

Before the Flood
Before the Flood II
The Black and White Milk Cow
Blind Shaft
Meishi Street
My Fair Son
The Other Half
Queer China, ‘Comrade’ China
Raised from Dust
San Yuan Li
Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul
Super, Girls!
Though I Am Gone
Timber Gang
Up the Yangtze

Kevin B. Lee is Editor in Chief of IndieWire’s PressPlay Video Blog, Video Essayist for Fandor’s Keyframe, and a contributor to Roger Follow him on Twitter.

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