Film Review: ‘Plastic China’

Dennis Harvey
Variety
Life in one Chinese town is entirely dedicated to recycling of First World waste in Jiu-liang Wang’s documentary.

Does One Man in China Control the Fate of Africa’s Elephants?

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
In the powerful new Netflix documentary The Ivory Game, Elephant Action League Executive Director Andrea Crosta ominously warned that the entire fate of Africa’s elephants is in the hands of a single man, Chinese President Xi Jinping. Only President...

Culture

06.29.16

Using Free Sex to Expose Sexual Abuse in China

Jonathan Landreth
Nanfu Wang hoped that a woman called Ye Haiyan (“Hooligan Sparrow”), who had offered free sex on the Internet to draw attention to the plight of poor women selling their bodies to support their children, would lead her to the prostitutes she wanted...

Media

03.29.16

‘River Town’ the Movie

Jonathan Landreth from China Film Insider
Not since Iron and Silk premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991 has a movie based on a memoir about teachers on the front lines of U.S.-China relations come to the big screen. Director Shirley Sun’s mostly-English-language film adaptation of...

Green Space

12.04.15

Green Activists Detained for ‘Prostitution,’ Yangtze Dolphins Rebound

Michael Zhao
Given that the Paris climate negotiations are underway, it is fair to start off with something about rising temperatures. This comes from a neat animation posted on Data Seeds’ WeChat Account that visualizes the warming trend within China’s borders...

The Chinese Government Is Censoring A Documentary About Mothers Who Love Their Gay Kids

Josh Horwitz
Quartz
The upcoming court case of a filmmaker from Beijing, stands out.

Chinese State Media Blasts ‘Stereotypical’ and ‘Prejudiced’ BBC Documentary

Ryan Kilpatrick
Hong Kong Economic Journal
China’s state media Xinhua has lashed out at a recent documentary series by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

China’s Invisible History: An Interview with Filmmaker and Artist Hu Jie

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Though none of his works have been publicly shown in China, Hu Jie is one of his country’s most noteworthy filmmakers. He is best known for his trilogy of documentaries about Maoist China, which includes Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul (2004), telling...

Media

10.24.14

Hong Kong Documentary Explores the Roots of Dissent

La Frances Hui
To many observers, Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Movement”—thousands of students and other citizens in the streets demanding to choose their own political leaders—seemed to unfurl, fully formed, out of nowhere. Residents of the former colony were supposed...

Environment

10.16.14

Chinese Environmentalists, in Their Own Words

Michael Zhao
Earlier this year, ChinaFile’s Environment Editor, Michael Zhao, teamed up with Phoenix Online to create a series of two-minute documentaries on the work, ideas, and aspirations of Chinese environmental advocates. The environmentalists, many of whom...

Media

02.14.14

A Kapital Idea

Matthew Niederhauser & David M. Barreda
Matthew Neiderhauser is a photographer and artist whose work is influenced by his studies in anthropology. He lived in Beijing for six years and recently returned to the United States. His pictorial book Sound Kapital, published in 2009, documented...

A Chinese Filmmaker Points His Camera at the Darkest Moments in Communist Party History

Matthew Bell
Public Radio International
Hu's films are tolerated by the Chinese government and have been screened at independant film festivals in China. ...

Though I am Gone

Hu Jie
Fast Company
(Vid) Wang Jingyao chronicles the murder of his wife, the first victim of the Cultural Revolution. 

A Path to the World for Chinese Directors

Andrew Jacobs
New York Times
CNEX, a nonprofit, has unique connections in the Chinese Communist Party which help insulate budding documentarians from undue interference so they can film and release films on a broader array of issues. 

A Long Ride Toward a New China (Video)

Stephen Maing
New York Times
Every summer, the 59-year-old Chinese blogger Zhang Shihe rides his bicycle thousands of miles to the plateaus, deserts and hinterlands of North Central China. In this Op-Doc video, we meet Mr. Zhang, known to his many followers online as “...

Media

05.09.13

Truth in Chinese Cinema?

Jonathan Landreth
In 1997, as James Cameron’s Titanic sank box office records around the world—including in China—Sally Berger, assistant film curator at the Museum of Modern Art, worked to bring New York moviegoers a raft of Chinese movies they’d never heard of.The...

The Silk Road Of Pop

Sameer Farooq
Smoke Signal Projects
The film follows the trails left by a young Uyghur female named Ay and her interest in music, documenting her influences and portraying her musical idols in northwestern China. 

Media

12.04.12

“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” Hits the Road

Jonathan Landreth
Debut filmmaker Alison Klayman has been on a global tour with her documentary—Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry—a film about one of China’s most provocative artists and activists, which this week, was named one of fifteen films put on a short list to be...

Culture

11.27.12

Remember to Tell the Truth

Maya E. Rudolph
The recording of memory brings history to life and creates a legacy of its own. In 2010, documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang launched the Memory Project to try to shine a light on the long-shrouded memories of one of modern China’s most traumatic...

A Rare and Precious Opportunity

Dan Edwards
Screening China
Last month the Film Southasia festival, showcasing documentaries from around the South Asia region, took place in Kathmandu, Nepal. China Exposé, a program of six independent Chinese works, was a prominent part of this year's festival. La...

Big Trouble in China: Festival Director Li Speaks Out About Beijing Independent Film Fest Shut Down

Kevin B. Lee
Indiewire
Last Saturday China’s independent film community faced their latest setback when the Beijing Independent Film Festival was forced to cancel its public screenings upon pressure from local authorities.  This was the third consecutive...

“If They Won’t Make It, I Can”-An Interview with Documentarian Hu Jie

Dan Edwards
ArtSpace China
 For many in contemporary China, the past is another country – and a hazy, dimly lit one at that. It’s not uncommon to meet young people in China who can recite every dynasty in the nation’s 5,000 year history, yet can barely muster more...

Portrait of a Gadfly—On New Documentary “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”

Jan Kaesebier
One artist, 90 minutes, 5196 children, 9000 backpacks, 81 days in prison and 40 cats, one of them can open the door. “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” is a short documentary, but it covers many different aspects of the famous Chinese artist-and-dissident’s...

Ai Weiwei Vouches for ‘Never Sorry’ Film

Jonathan Landreth
Wall Street Journal
Alison Klayman was just 24, and a China novice, when she wandered almost by accident into the tumultuous life of Ai Weiwei, China’s most outspoken artist-turned activist, in 2008. The American journalist, from a conservative Jewish upbringing in...

Inside the Documentary "Ai Weiwei, Never Sorry"

Larry Rother
New York Times
IN the summer of 2006, having just graduated from Brown University with a degree in history and a yearning for travel, Alison Klayman headed to China. She arrived there speaking no Chinese, with only one contact and a vague notion of learning a new...

A World War II Story That China Would Like You to Hear

Conor Friedersdorf
Atlantic
On May 6, 1944, U.S. army pilot Glen Beneda of the Flying Tigers was shot at by Japanese fighters while flying a combat mission over China. His plane caught fire, he ejected, and minutes later he landed in a rice paddy, frightening a group of...

Out of School

06.25.12

Review: “The Revolutionary”

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
The Revolutionary, a new documentary that has begun showing on university campuses and at cultural centers, looks at the life of Sidney Rittenberg, a ninety-year-old man who has had an extraordinary variety of experiences. Born into a well-to-do...

Documenting China's Lost History of Famine

Michael Bristow
BBC
The great famine that devastated China half a century ago killed tens of millions of people—but is barely a footnote in history books. There are few open public records of an event that is seared into the memories of those who survived this largely...

Culture

05.01.12

China Through An Independent Lens

La Frances Hui
Chinese documentaries have gained global attention in the past decade or so, thanks partly to the creative originality of young filmmakers and partly to a rapidly changing China that fascinates viewers from around the world. Wang Bing’s nine-hour...

Sinica Podcast

08.27.11

Zhao Liang and the South-North Water Diversion Project

Kaiser Kuo, Edward Wong & more from Sinica Podcast
This week on Sinica: China makes an about-face on Libya, we discuss a recent controversy in Beijing’s arts community over independent filmmaker Zhao Liang, and get an on-the-ground update on the state of China’s South-North Water Diversion Project,...

The Beginning of the End

Ian Buruma from New York Review of Books
Failed rebellions are often like failed marriages: former partners and their friends blame the other side for what went wrong; old tensions are magnified; the past is rewritten; feuding camps are formed. This pretty much sums up the situation among...