Chinese Documentary

November 1, 2014 - 1:00pm

WU Wenguang, one of the founding figures in Chinese independent documentary, brings three young filmmakers from China to present their collective work, “the Memory Project.” The project is based at Coachangdi Workstation in Beijing. From there, young filmmakers fanned out to return to family villages and their own pasts, real and imagined, to inquire about The Great Famine of 1959-61 — a disaster of whose memories have been actively abandoned by the state. Aiming to create a “folk memory archive,” the project, which combines documentary films, oral history records, and live performances, presents an alternative narrative of Chinese history than the one written in official textbooks. As these young filmmakers search for the distant memory from an old generation that is still living in rural poverty, their encounter with the past reveals as much about the wish for memory as of memory itself and of the interesting role of film in such projects of retrieval.

The event is co-sponsored by:

  • Film Studies Program
  • Asian Studies Center
  • Confucius Institute

THE FILMS:

Self-Portrait and Three Women (2010, 70min)

Directed by Zhang Mengqi.

The filmmaker’s statement:

This year I turned 23, the age when women become pregnant with dreams. Yet, even while nursing our own dreams, we must carry the burden of two other women’s dreams as well. This film begins with my own search, then delving into my mother and her mother, where blood has flowed through three generations, in these women who grew up in different times. As a victim of an oppressive marriage, my grandmother held hopes for my mother to have a happy marriage. When my mother became a victim herself, she turned those hopes to me. Marriage may be every girl’s dream, but it is also the murderer of those dreams.

Self-Portrait: At 47 KM (2011, 77min)

Directed by Zhang Mengqi.

The filmmaker’s statement:

After my first documentary Self-portrait and Three Women, my second “self-portrait” was painted in a village named “47 KM.” This village is located 47 KM from Suizhou, Hubei Province, where my father was born. He left the village when he was 20, but his father, my grandfather, still lives there. In the summer and winter of 2010, through my participation in the “Folk Memory Project”, I went back to the village, which seems disconnected from my current life, and re-discovered and came to better understand my grandfather, the old villagers who underwent the disaster of the famine fifty years ago, as well as the village, which always perplexed and embarrassed me. What does “47 KM” really mean to me? It seems to be a mirror, I see myself in front of it.    

Huamulin, Boy Xiaoqiang (2013, 76min)

Directed by Li Xinmin

The filmmaker’s statement:

This film is about a four-year-old boy, Xiaoqiang. His mother, Xiaoqun, is just of my age. I filmed Xiaoqun and her family last year. This year I went back filming her son Xiaoqiang who I found so interesting. We hung out together and picked up garbage in the village, witnessing the real life of old villagers and the damage they did to the environment. 

Children's Village (2012, 85min)

Directed by Zou Xueping

The filmmaker’s statement:

In the winter of 2012, I returned to my village to continue interviewing elderly villagers. Meanwhile, I began investigating and gathering statistics on those who died during the Great Famine. I also started fund-raising to build a memorial for those who died. Many village children, from 10-15 years old, voluntarily joined these activities. They took the DV camera I gave them, visited old folks, interviewed them, and collected statistics and donations. This project gave them their first opportunity to learn about and appreciate the history of their village. Assisted by these "little angels," I no longer felt lonely in the village. I started seeing hope for the future. This film forms an important part of my Zou Village series.

THE FILMMAKERS:

Zou Xueping was born in Bingzhou City, Shandong Province, in 1985. In 2009 she graduated from the Department of New Media at the China Academy of Fine Arts. She is currently a resident artist at Wu Wenguang's Caochangdi (CCD) Workshop in Beijing. She has completed a documentary series centered on her home Village, including Mom (2008), The Starving Village (2010), Satiated Village (2011) which won an “Award of Excellence” at Beijing Independent Film Festival 2012, Children's Village (2012) and Trash Village (2013).

Zhang Mengqi was born in 1987. She graduated from the Dance Academy at the Minzu University of China in 2008. Since 2009, she has been a resident artist at CCD Workstation. Her four documentary films, Self-portrait with Three Women (2010), Self-Portrait: At 47 KM (2011), Self-portrait: Dancing at 47 KM (2012), and Self-Portrait: Dreaming at 47 KM (2013), complete her “self-portrait series”

Li Xinmin was born in a mountain village in Yunnan Province in 1988. Her formal education stopped at the fifth grade due to poverty. At the age of 16, she began working as a migrant worker in the city to provide for her rural family. Since 2007, she has been working in CCD Workstation and completed documentary films Back to Huamulin (2011), Huamulin 2012 (2012) and Huamulin, Boy Xiaoqiang (2013).

Wu Wenguang, a veteran of independent filmmaking in China, has directed a number of award-wining documentaries, including Bumming in Beijing (1990), 1966, My Time in the Red Guards (1993), Jiang Hu: Life on the Road (1999), Fuck Cinema (2005), and Treatment (2010). In 2005, Wu co-funded Caochangdi Workstation in Beijing with performance artist Wen Hui. Since then, Wu has launched two large-scale collective projects: the Village Documentary Project in 2005 and the Folk Memory Project in 2010.

Location and Address

LANGLEY HALL A224
University of Pittsburgh
 

Schedule of Events

Screening and Q&A with Filmmakers
October 31, 2014 - 7:00pm to 10:00pm

Self-Portrait and Three Women (2010, 70min) Directed by Zhang Mengqi.

Self-Portrait: At 47 KM (2011, 77min) Directed by Zhang Mengqi.

Screening and Discussion
November 1, 2014 - 1:00pm to 5:00pm

Discussants: Jinying Li, Neepa Majumdar, Robert Clift

(1:00 pm - 2:16 pm) Huamulin, Boy Xiaoqiang (2013, 76min) Directed by Li Xinmin

(2:30 pm - 3:55 pm) Children's Village (2012, 85min) Directed by Zou Xueping

(4:10 pm - 5:00 pm) Discussion with filmmakers Wu Wenguang, Zou Xueping, Li Xinmin, Zhang Mengqi and Pitt faculty Jinying Li, Neepa Majumdar, and Robert Clift.