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Nov 25, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Today, Or The Golden Age

With Cong Feng Mao Chenyu Yi Sicheng, Zhou Xin and Benny Shaffer.

Last year, film festival organizers and filmmakers in China witnessed widespread strategic interventions when governmental authorities clamped down on independent film festivals in the cities of Kunming, Beijing, Nanjing and Hangzhou. Numerous festivals were cancelled and forced to go underground. The power was pulled by local authorities at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Beijing Independent Film Festival (BIFF), and this past August, when BIFF faced similar obstacles, a journalist in Beijing wrote of  the death of indie cinema in China, though this claim was soon overturned by film festival organizers, who argue that the independent film festival will survive, even if forced to reinvent itself.

Three central figures from the Chinese documentary scene will discuss documentary filmmaking and exhibition in contemporary China, particularly the case of the Yunnan Multi-Culture Visual Festival (Yunfest). Yi Sicheng, the director of Yunfest, will present an introduction to the history of the festival, and speak to its broader significance in the Chinese documentary scene. Yi’s presentation will be followed by an artist talk in which filmmakers Cong Feng and Mao Chenyu will share excerpts from recent projects and engage the audience in discussion. All conversation in Mandarin will be presented with simultaneous English translation, and film excerpts will be screened with English subtitles.

Yi Sicheng from Kunming, Yunnan Province, is a scholar and curator of Chinese independent cinema, Yi is the director of the Yunnan Multi-Culture Visual Festival (Yunfest) in Kunming, China. He studied Chinese Literature at Yunnan Normal University, Visual Anthropology at Yunnan University, and holds a Ph.D. in Chinese Studies and Anthropology from Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (Kiel, Germany). He is the editor of the anthology, Today, Or The Golden Age (Jintian, huo huangjin shidai, 2011), a collection of critical writings on Chinese independent cinema by filmmakers and scholars from China, Europe, and North America.

In another life, Cong Feng worked for the weather bureau. He now works as an independent filmmaker and poet based in Beijing. He is the director of the Italy of Gansu Trilogy, which includes the films Religion (2006), Doctor Ma’s Country Clinic (2008), and The Unfinished History of Life (2010). His most recent work, Stratum 1: The Visitors (2013), won the top prize at the 2013 Beijing Independent Film Festival. His works have appeared at the Berlin International Film Festival, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, and across the independent film festival circuit in China. He is also on the editorial board of the online film journal Film Auteur (Dianying zuozhe), which publishes critical writings by independent filmmakers in China.

An independent filmmaker and rice-farmer based in his native Hunan Province, Mao Chenyu graduated as an engineering major from Tongji University in Shanghai in 2000. Since then he has been engaged in a range of anthropological image-making projects. He established the Second Text Laboratory in 2006, which creates a space for representing the diversity of China’s ethnic groups and the unheard voices of Chinese history. His film Ximaojia Universe won Special Mentions in the New Asian Currents section at the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival in 2009. He also serves as an editor for the online magazine Film Auteur (Dianying zuozhe). www.paddyfilm.org

Benny Shaffer curates the Emergent Visions screening series at Harvard University, which showcases new and innovative works of digital cinema from China.  He was formerly an editor at LEAP: The International Art Magazine of Contemporary China in Beijing. He is currently a PhD candidate in Media Anthropology at Harvard University, and produces works of film, video, and sound through the Sensory Ethnography Lab.

Xin Zhou is a writer and curator based in Brooklyn, NY. His writing has appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Artforum.com.cn, etc. His most recent exhibition is Performing China: Contemporary Chinese Film and Media at The Wooster Group. He is a MA Candidate of Cinema Studies at New York University. zhouxin.co


Nov 25, 2013
7:30 pm – 10:00 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
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