Reel China @ NYU 8th Biennial 2016

Reel China @ NYU 8th Biennial 2016

October 28-30, 2016

Reel China 2016 once again samples outstanding contemporary Chinese independent documentaries, while also showcasing a number of innovative narrative, experimental films and animation works. These films use different kinds of media or technology and are by emerging filmmakers in China (with, in some instances, non-Chinese collaborators). Many of them are award-winning films from the China Independent Film Festival (CIFF) in Nanjing and elsewhere. CIFF also contributes a special shorts program for this Reel China edition.

Participating filmmakers range from more experienced ones to young novices. As their disparate visions and voices extend and overlap, we witness the persistent presence of independent perspectives that assure the discovery and creative engagement of the disorienting contemporary social and psychic fragments that are becoming history at breakneck speed.

Presented by
the Asian Film & Media Initiative (AFMI) in the Department of Cinema Studies
the Center for Religion and Media (CRM) at NYU

Co-sponsored by
the Center for Media, Culture & History
China House NYU
NYU History
NYU East Asian Studies
with the support of the
Provost’s Global Research Initiative

Special thanks to
China Independent Film Festival (CIFF), Nanjing

Organized by
Zhang Zhen 张真
Angela Zito 司徒安

All events are free and open to the public.

Friday Oct. 28

2:30 pm
Opening remarks

2:45 pm
Every Meeting Seems Parting 每次见面都像是告别 (2015, 35 min) dir. WANG Ping 王坪

3:30 pm
My Land 吾土 (2015, 83min) dir. Fan Jian 范俭

Q & A with director Fan Ji 范俭and producer Isabella Zang臧妮

6:00 pm

7:30 pm
The Shoeshiner’s Journey 昨日狂想曲 (2015, 76min) dir. LI Xiaofeng & JIA Kai 黎小峰&贾恺

Saturday Oct. 29

10:00 am
The Enclave 飞地 (2015, 119min) dir. LI Wei 李维

1:30 pm
Trace 痕迹 (2013, 72 min) dir. Huang Ji & Ryuji Otsuka 黄骥&大塚龙治

2:45 pm
Q & A with director Huang Ji 黄骥

3:45 pm
I am Going to Make Lesbian Porn! 我要拍女女色情片 (2014, 35min) dir. Da Jing 大京

4:20 pm
Papa Rainbow 彩虹伴我行 (2016, 80min) dir. FAN Popo 范坡坡

7:00 pm
Preachers 传道人 (2013, 180min) dir. LIN Xin 林鑫

Sunday Oct. 30

10:00 am
Li Wen at East Lake 李文漫游东湖 (2015, 117min) dir. LI Luo 李珞

Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping 锤子镰刀都休息 (2013, 53min) dir. GENG Jun 耿军

CIFF Shorts Program 中国独立影像展短片选辑 (2013-2015, ca. 90min)

Guest-curated by Cao Kai 曹恺and Chen Ping 陈平; introduced by Cao Kai, co-founder of China Independent Film Festival

  • Butter Lamp酥油灯 (2013, 16min) dir. HU Wei 胡伟
  • Ketchup 番茄酱 (2012, 6min) dir. GUO Chunning & YAN Boshan郭春宁&闫柏屾
  • Distance我们之间 (2014, 9min) dir. ZHANG Xinlan张欣澜
  • Forever地久天长  Zhong Su (2015, 7min) dir. ZHONG Su钟甦
  • Uterus Man 子宫战士 (2013, 11min) dir. LU Yang 陆扬
  • Double Act (2013, 5min) 双簧DING Shiwei丁世伟
  • The Castle of Lallation麦城 (2015, 18min) dir. XIANG Jianheng项建恒
  • Horse马 (2013, 4min) dir. SHEN Jie沈杰
  • Recycled 照片回收 (2012, 5min) dir. LEI Lei & Thomas Sauvin 雷磊&苏文
  • Food Factory 食品加工厂 (2015, 13min) dir. ZHANG Moying张墨颖
  • Outdoor Sex Prospers Life 野合万事兴 (2010, 5min) dir. Na Yingyu & Zuoxiao Zuzhou那颖禹&左小祖咒

5:00pm          Roundtable with filmmakers and scholars


Program description (in order of screening schedule)

Every Meeting Seems Parting
2015 | 35 mins

As my mother experiences many times people at her age passing away, she finally talks about death with me. She wants me to spread her ashes in the ocean. For over sixty years, my parents’ lives are almost completely out of touch with modern society, and they’ve never had any opportunity to see the ocean. As their only daughter, I want to take them to the ocean while making my film. I found an island close to my hometown, Weizhou Island, and I recorded the trip there, with my parents and another friend who was also a cinematographer. Most of the scenes in this film are real documentation, including my conversations with the cinematographer.



WANG Ping is an experimental filmmaker. She graduated from the School of Intermedia Arts at China Academy of Art in 2015. She works mainly through different forms of image, including experimental shorts, videos, photography and hand-drawn animation etc.




My Land
2015 | 83 mins

Vegetable farmer Chen Jun runs a telephone hotline for Beijing’s migrant workers. He helps them to fight for their rights. To make room for the housing market for the burgeoning new middle class,the government took away the land that he had farmed for many years. Yet Chen Jun and his wife refuse to give in without proper compensation from the government. To defend their rights, they have years of living in a place without electricity or water. They are idealists, full of civic spirit and a deep sense of solidarity with fellow migrant workers in a country where the laws do not apply to everyone in an equal way.



Fan Jian graduated from the department of directing at Beijing Film Academy, and has been working as an independent documentary filmmaker for a decade. His works has been shown in many international film festivals.




The Shoe-Shiner's Journey
2015|75 min

If someday you bump into a battered van wrapped in slogans and red flags with high-pitched songs of the 1960s, you should not think you are back to the 1960s. It’s Liu coming. Liu used to hold a good position in the local government in Tibet. But he quit his job and left his family twelve years ago, and went on a long, non-stop journey, traveling around China. With a broken van as his only companion, Liu dedicates himself to the great aspiration of establishing a university of international communism on his own. The irony is that the individualistic heroism of his behavior makes him politically provocative in a regime that advocates collectivism. The shooting of the film lasted for seven years since 2007. The story unfolds as the protagonist’s journey goes on, both back to his traumatic past rooted in the Maoist era and forward to the obscure future of capitalist China. To a certain extent, Liu’s personal past and present are intimately intermingled with the past and present of this nation; their intersections constantly move forward like the spinning wheels of Liu’s van. This film has won the “best documentary” award at this year’s FIRST International Film Festival at Xining.



Li Xiaofeng and Jia Kai are both associate professors at the College of Arts and Media at Tongji University. The duo has produced many independent documentaries including Walk in the Dark (2005), My Last Secret (2008), Gold Underground (2011). Their films have been selected and awarded by international film festivals such as Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, Jeonju International Film Festival, Copenhagen International Documentary Festival, Fribourg International Film Festival, etc.



The Enclave
2015|120 mins

On Daliang Mountain in Sichuan Province, the village people eat and live with their livestock. Since 2012 electricity became available in this village. There also come university students, working as volunteer teachers. The villager Yibu Sugan lost his father when he was young. He almost died elsewhere before returning home to live with his mother. With TV, he has a new way to learn more about the outside world. He praises governmental policies, and starts debating on issues of politics, economy and education with the teachers. The film quietly observes this village, and leaves us reflecting on the conflicts in our civilization.



Li Wei was born in 1994 in Fengdu, Chongqing. He was a high school dropout, but graduated from the Li Xianting Film School. In 2015 his debut documentary The Enclave won the “Independent Spirit” Award at the 12th Beijing Independent Film Festival. He is the youngest award winner in this category. The film was also selected by the 10th Taiwan International Documentary Festival, the 10th FIRST International Film Festival at Xining.



2013 | 72 min

Mother filmmaker Huang Ji with her Japanese husband Ryuji Otsuka returned to her hometown in Hunan Province for their baby daughter’s Chinese household registration and passport application. They made a home movie about the trip, at the time when the Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku Islands) dispute heated up and the relationship between China and Japan gets tense.



Huang Ji was born and raised in Hunan Province. She studied screenwriting in Beijing Film Academy. Her feature directorial debut, Egg and stone, was shot in her hometown in 2011 working with all non-professional actors. This film was world-premiered at 41st International Film Festival Rotterdam and won a Tiger Award.


Ryuji Otsuka was born in 1972 at Tokyo. After graduating from the Nihon University, he worked as directors at TV stations made documentary programs. Since 2005 he started his filmmaking career in Beijing, paying close attention to the social changes in China. From 2010 he is become a DoP of Huang Ji’s film such as The Warmth Of The Orange Peel and Egg and Stone.

大冢龙治 1972年生于日本东京,在日本电视台担任7年的纪录片导演后, 05年开始来北京拍电影,一直关注着中国社会变化。2010年起他成为黄骥的制片人和摄像师,参与制作《橘子皮的温度》和《鸡蛋和石头》等影片。


I Am Going to Make Lesbian Porn
2014 | 35 mins

I’d like to make lesbian porn for girls. So I invite a bisexual friend Xiao Ying and a straight girl Ruo Han to be in my film. We have found a lot of other issues during the process of making the film. They are about women’s desire and body, and perhaps related to men.



Dajing is a transgender independent filmmaker. She was born in Beijing and currently lives in Beijing. In 2011 she began using experimental film to express her point of views, writing her own scripts and shooting films in a particular personal way. Her works include We Are Tomboys, Lesbian Death and 19 Love Stories.



Papa Rainbow
2016 | 80 mins

In China, most families have difficulties facing their lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT) children. They have to contend with common social beliefs that homosexuality is shameful, abnormal, a perverted condition caused by deviant family relationships. Many parents see their kids as their property, and fathers often assert their authority to ensure that no harm comes to the family reputation. This documentary features six Chinese fathers who talk openly and freely about their experiences with their LGBT children. Speaking out against discrimination and stigma, they redefine what it means to protect a household. They fully embrace their kids for who they are, and become pioneer activists fighting for an equal and diverse society.



Popo Fan is a queer independent filmmaker and curator. Born in 1985, he graduated from the Beijing Film Academy. He has organized the China Queer Film Festival Tour, which has travelled over 20 major cities in China since 2008. He has been a committee member of the Beijing Queer Film Festival since 2009. His documentary works mostly focus on LGBT/Gender issues

范坡坡,酷儿独立电影制作者,策展人。 1985年出生,毕业于北京电影学院。策划中国酷儿影像巡回展,足迹遍布中国二十几个城市。2007年至今参与组织北京酷儿影展。纪录片作品主要关注性别/性少数议题.


2013 | 180 mins

This is a documentary about faith, telling the stories of a dozen or so Christians in the city of Tongchuan in Shaanxi Province. Through the lives and beliefs of four generations of preachers, the film reflects on the profound influence of 50 years of social change on the local church. Whether recounting personal setbacks encountered on the serving path or people’s weaknesses, growth, or disputes within the church community, the film becomes a neutral and faithful portrayal of a group of preachers, of the history of the church community and of the status-quo of belief in this faithless era.



Lin Xin was born in 1960 in Tongchuan City, Shaanxi Province. He has held several solo painting and calligraphy exhibitions in various locations, including the Art Museum of China in Beijing and in Xi'an, and has published a collection of poems entitled “Ah! Father - Dark Memories.” In 2003, Lin Xin started making documentaries. His major works include Chen Lu (2005), Sanlidong (2007), Classmates (2009) and Gas (2010).



Li Wen at East Lake
2015 | 117 mins

Luo Li’s follow-up to Emperor Visits the Hell  (2013) is arguably the finest work to date from one of the most distinctive voices in modern Chinese cinema: a portrait of Wuhan’s East Lake that quickly evolves into a detective story—or does it? The title character is a cop who’s tracking a vaguely suspicious figure around the lake, but his rambling trajectory turns out to be, if anything, an excuse for Li to spend time with the area’s residents and regulars. Li Wen at East Lake ultimately becomes a grim, darkly comic picture of a modern China that makes a criminal offense of freedom of thought and being on the outside.


Li Luo was born in Wuhan, China. He obtained his BA and MA degrees in filmmaking at York University, Toronto. His two shorts and four features include I Went to the Zoo the Other Day (2009), Rivers and My Father (2010, Second Prize at the 2010 China Independent Film Festival), Emperor Visits the Hell (2012, Dragons and Tigers Prize, 2012 Vancouver International Film Festival) and Li Wen At East Lake (2014). A retrospective exhibition of Li Luo was held at the TIFF Cinematheque, Toronto in July 2015.




The Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping
2013 | 52 mins

Two bad guys meet another bad guy, and they get together doing bad things. But they never succeed in doing bad things due to their weakness. A man with faith is living with these guys. This film is telling the story of a hammer wrapped in a towel. It depicts the kind of weakness that you can see everywhere. It’s an absurd story under a savage circumstance.



Geng Jun was born in 1976 in Heilongjiang Province and now base in Beijing. He has been making independent films since 2002.



CIFF Shorts Program CIFF短片选辑

Curators of CIFF:

Cao Kai, a contemporary artist and independent curator. Born in 1969, from Changzhou, Jiangsu Province. After graduating from Nanjing University of the Arts in 1992, he has been working in Nanjing TV Station for many years. He established PEEXIE Studio in Nanjing in 2000. His work includes the creation, criticism, historical research, exhibition, and education of experimental films and video art, associating with other fields, such as documentary, new media art, digital art and etc. He is also a contemporary artist since 1994, using video, photography and installation as the main medium of creation. He is currently an important video artist and experimental filmmaker in China. As an independent curator, he organized and curated China Independent Film Festival since 2003. He also participated in various intercontinental art projects relating to Chinese independent films, experimental films and Video Art in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, South Korea, Taiwan, and Macao.

曹恺,当代艺术家,独立策展人。生于1969年,江苏常州人。1992 年毕业于南京艺术学院,曾在南京电视台工 作多年。2000 年在南京设立了“辟邪工作室”PEEXIE Studio,其工作范畴包括实验电影与录像艺术的创作、批评、历史研究、策展、教育等,并涉及到更为 广泛的纪录片、新媒体艺术、数字艺术各个等方面。作为当代艺术家,自 1994 年起介入当代艺术领域,以录像、摄影、装置等为主 要艺术媒介,是目前国内重要的录像艺术家和实验电影人。作为独立策展人,自 2003 年起,组织了历届“中国独立影像年度展”,亦曾在 奥地利、德国、瑞士、韩国、台湾、澳门等其他洲际区域策划了与中国独立电 影、实验电影与录像艺术有关的各种艺术项目。

Chen Ping, film and theater producer, curator. He graduated from Ecole Supérieure de Réalisation Audiovisuelle in French. His research and curatorial field focus on independent film and independent theatre. His works as the curator and film selector of China Independent Film Festival, co-founder and artistic director of Contemporary Theatre Festival for Young Practitioners (Nanjing). He carried out a plurality of international cooperation film and theatre projects with the world-renowned universities and arts organizations in the scope of practice and research. Meanwhile as a teacher, he started teaching at Nanjing University of the Arts from 2012.


Butter Lamp
2013 | 32 mins

A young itinerant photographer and his assistant suggest to Tibetan nomads to photograph them in front of various background.



Hu Wei, lives and works in Paris. Diploma of the ENSBA (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris) and Fresnoy, National Studio of Contemporary Arts. works through the plastic arts and films.

胡伟,现工作和生活于巴黎。先后毕业于北京师范大学,巴黎国立高等美术学院和Le Fresnoy法国国家当代艺术工作室。从事于当代造型艺术和电影创作。

2012 | 6'28"

Ketchup is the first work of 70's Children trilogy which describes the passive experience of human beings when facing death, sexual activity and politics from the perspective of people born in 1970s.


《番茄酱》是郭春宁和闫柏屾共同创作的实验动画三部曲<70's children>系列中的第一部作品,其它的两部作品《屁股,PIGU》《空想,ILLUSION》正在创作之中。三部曲<70's children>是以一个在70年代出生者的视角,呈现一种关于人在处于死亡事件,性管理和政治活动中的被动式体验。

Guo Chunning and Yan Boshan make independent films, animated documentaries, and graphics novels.

郭春宁与闫柏屾是独立影像、半纪录动画、Graphics novel创作人.

2015 | 9'01''

The first group of Mainland students who came to study and lived in Taiwan had graduated. It is the end of a period of close communication between students from both sides of the strait. They had been under great attention since the first time they went into college four years ago. Four years ago, they were anxious about how they were to be looked at in Taiwan. And now, they are worrying about how they will be accepted back in China with the education background in Taiwan. As one of these special students, the director wants to present her four years’ experience in the form of a three-lattice film.



Zhang Xinlan was born in Xiamen. In 2011, Zhang Xinlan was one of the first Mainland students studied in Taiwan, then graduated from Fu Jen University. She has experienced many differences and similarities in these two worlds, documented the emotional entanglement as a mainlander encountering Taiwan society.



2015 | 7' |

In this film, the story, or plot, manifests itself during the actual process of production. It contains all that have been germinated and grown in constant abandonment and compromises, in aimless and indicated wandering, in anxiety and discontent. Finally, feeling distressed, confused and exhausted at the same time, I found this kind of wasted energy probably unavoidable. Fortunately, the work is finished. However, for the auteur, the film is still a mystery.



Zhong Su had his degrees from the Department of Oil Painting at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 2005 and from China Art Academy in 2008. His works have been selected by many film festivals including CIFF, Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennale, Across Asia Film Festival, 2nd DC Chinese Film Festival, Beijing Independent Film Festival etc.



Uterus Man
2013 | 10'

The shape of woman's uterus is very similar to the image of a man with open arms, standing with feet together. This film was inspired by it. The uterine warrior who is a super hero seems to be a male, but the warrior’s super power comes from the female’s uterus.



Lu Yang was born in Shanghai in 1984, graduated from the New Media Department at China Academy of Art.



Double Act
2013 | 4'37"

In the space fully covered in colorful ideologies, we see the glamorously outerwear of modern industry and the utopian ideal that hypnotizing the society. However, the ethnic communities are kept outside of politics, which has certain unspeakable rules and constrains. From the indifferent public, literary mass movements, and crazily raised and dropped scaffold, the history always welds the seemingly opposite powers with negative forms. We imagine about being reborn. But, can we truly obtain freedom from violence and metempsychosis?


在荒诞不经且充满意识形态色彩的空间里,展示着光鲜华丽的现代工业外衣,充斥着催眠社会的乌托邦理想,但民族的群落却被隔离在政治之外,有着某种不可言说的规则与束缚。冷漠的公众,文学化的广场政治,疯狂起落的断头台,历史总是以否定的形式焊接着貌似相反的时代。我们臆想会得到新生,但暴力与轮回会获得真正的自由吗? !



Ding Shiwei was born in Heilongjiang Province and graduated from China Academy Of Art in 2012. He currently lives and works in Hangzhou, making experimental animation and experimental video.

The Castle of Lallation
2015 | 18'

Adapted from Franz Kafka’s The Castle and Luo Guanzhong’s The Wheat City, this film tries to convey a nihilistic, fragmented and confused feeling, which can’t be achieved through narrative. Following a butterfly, the protagonist enters a castle unintentionally. And the host of the castle shows him a secret — a “Butterfly Factory,” an absurd Utopia. This film constructs an abstract drama that happens in a virtual castle by experimentally symbolizing the elements from Chinese operas and history as well as integrating the acting from Absurd Theatre and the traditional stage play.



Xiang Jianheng is an independent filmmaker, teacher and associate professor of China Academy of Art. He is greatly influenced by the Theatre of the Absurd and New-Wave cinemas. He has made seven shorts, which have been selected to several international film festivals such as Hiroshima International Animation Festival.



2013 | 4'17"

Five chapters about a horse that has been split up into five parts.



Shen Jie was born in 1989. He graduated from Shanghai Institute of Technology in 2012. He works at an advertising company, and make animation films in his spare time.


2012 | 5'

In recent years, we collected abandoned films in the scrap stations around Beijing. Up to almost 500 thousand 35 mm color films recorded people’s lives in the past thirty years. We selected 3000 of them to make this animation.



Lei Lei is an independent animation director and multi-media artist. He won several awards, including Best Short Animation in 2010 Ottawa International Animation Festival, Best Animation in 2013 Netherland International Animation Festival, and Best Experimental Short Animation in Czech International Animation Festival.


Thomas Sauvin is a French photography collector and artist who lives between Paris and Beijing. Sauvin’s project, Beijing Silvermine, an archive of half a million negatives salvaged over the years from a recycling plant on the edge of Beijing, has been presented at numerous photography festivals and exhibitions around the world.


Food Factory
2015 | 13'

The film narrative is based on the exaggerated performance of eating and excretion in our daily life. It is an absurd and surreal story, shot frame by frame. The film reexamines and questions about the basic elements for living.



Zhang Moying graduated from Shanghai Institute of Visual Art in 2015.

张墨颖, 2015年毕业于上海视觉艺术学院。

Outdoor Sex Prospers Life
2010 | 5’ 46’’

The footages of this film mainly come from four films: the opera film Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai (1954), the rural story of Youth in Our Village (1959), war film A Crack Eagle on Sea (1959) and the story about ethnic minorities, Five Golden Flowers (1959). There are several shots that last only for a few seconds, and they come from films made during the Cultural Revolution. This film tells the story of two lovers in different lives.


作品主要采样自四部电影:1954年的戏曲电影《梁山伯与祝英台》;1959年的农 村题材电影《我们村里的年轻人》;1959年的战争题材电影《海上神鹰》;以及1959年的少数民族题材电影《五朵金花》。另外还有数个持续时间只有几秒的镜头,分别采样自数部十七年电影。作品讲述了 一个时空交错中的一对情人的前世今生,前世忠贞不贰,今生三角恋爱。

Na Yingyu (Heilongjiang, China) is an artist currently living and working in Beijing. Through photography, film, video, and VJ, his recent works concern the history of Chinese cinema in the PRC era before the Culture Revolution, as well as the folk history of the rural.


Zuoxiao Zuzhou, born in Jiangsu Province in 1970. Independent musician, poet, novelist and artist.

左小祖咒,1970年生于江苏,内地独立音乐人、诗人、小说家、艺术家 。