China Now, program 3: Yumen plus animated short films
China Now: Independent Visions
program 3: Yumen plus animated short films
NOTE: Cinematheque members receive discount admission. For details please see http://www.sfcinematheque.org/support/membership/
With the advent of DV technology, grassroots methods of independent filmmaking in China have given rise to innovative new films and spawned an active independent filmmaking culture. Distancing themselves from prevailing ideological currents, critiquing the embrace of global capitalism, and, through the frequent use of on-screen interview and oral history, giving voice to citizens and witnesses omitted from official national narratives of growth and prosperity, these films seldom receive approval by censors and therefore cannot be screened in commercial cinemas in China. Instead, they rely on informal networks of galleries, cafes, universities and festivals which support this active and vital independent artistic activity despite the ebb and flow of government pressure and intervention. In support of the work of independent filmmakers worldwide, San Francisco Cinematheque and Cinema on the Edge, in association with the Center for Asian American Media and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, is proud to present this series of programs of recent independent film from China. These programs highlight the work of Chinese independent filmmakers, producers and distribution networks who are dedicated to supporting formally and ideologically challenging work created outside the official Chinese film industry.
These films are vital for us to know about in the West, not just for their compelling contentthere are few more important stories to tell than China's transition to world political and cultural powerhousebut because the filmmakers are inventing new ways of mobilizing, adapting, and innovating film language under pressure of the incredibly rapid and fundamental changes Chinese society is undergoing. Ai Weiwei's intensely engaged hyper-journalistic camera (Ping'An Yueqing); Sniadecki, Huang and Xu's genre-defying performance/documentary art hybrid work (Yumen); and Chen Zhou and Zhi Jun's visually playful experimentalism (I Am Not Not Not Chen Zhou and Dismantling Clematis): all 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, one that is shaping our own future at the same time. (Shelly Kraicer, co-organizer of China Now: Independent Visions & Steve Polta, San Francisco Cinematheque)
In support of these heroic grassroots film creators, Cinematheque is thrilled to present a concentrated one-day, three-program series celebrating this important and innovative cinema.
8pm: Program 3: Yumen plus animated short films
Yumen (2013) by Huang Xiang, Xu Ruotao, and JP Sniadecki: a stunningly beautiful Chinese experimental-fiction-documentary that dazzlingly combines ghost stories and "ruin porn" to form a celluloid psycho-collage. Shot on 16mm film (extremely rare in China), the film is set in the largely abandoned oil drilling town of Yumena place with an ancient, poetic history in China's western Gansu provinceand takes us through trashed, desolate urban spaces abandoned by Chinese socialism. But the filmmakers bring these places alive with their cast of ghosts, artists, vagabond dancers and singers. It's a film chock full of fascinating things: massive oil pumps and sun-blasted vistas; nude performance art and impromptu flamenco; fuzzy bunny rabbits and snarling canines; groovy '70s Taiwan pop and contemporary Korean girl bands; socialist nostalgia; and postmodern pastiche.
Yumen is preceded by:
Perfect Conjugal Bliss (2014) by Zhong Su: A gorgeous 3D animation unscrolling through Chinese history, from grey urban collapse to ultra-coloured consumer dystopia.
How (2013) by Zhang Yipin: Traditional pen-and-ink drawings, animating a fuzzy-haired ruddy-cheeked girl's imaginative world of terror and freedom.
Double Act (2013) by Ding Shiwei: Black-and-white industrial surreal: bodies float between familiar bureaucratic monuments above, and sunflowers beneath the earth.
The Victoria Theater (View)
2961 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110