Reel China@NYU 8th Biennial 2016 – Program

Reel China @NYU 8th Biennial 2016


October 28-30, 2016

Co-presented by the Asian Film & Media Initiative (AFMI) at the Department of Cinema Studies, and the Center of Religion and Media (CRM), New York University

Co-sponsored by the Provost’s Office for Global Research Initiative, China House, Departments of History and East Asian Studies, New York University

Co-organized by Zhen Zhang (AFMI, Cinema Studies) and Angela Zito (CRM, Anthropology), with the assistance of Jeff Richardson, Kali Handelman, & Zoe Meng Jiang

All events take place at 721 Broadway (map), Room 648 (Michelson Theater), Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, and are open to the public free of charge


Still from “My Land” by FAN Jian

Friday Oct. 28

2:30 pm           Opening remarks

2:45 pm           Every Meeting Seems Parting 每次见面都像是告别

(Wang Ping, 2015, 35 min)

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

Q & A with director Fan Jian and producer Isabella Zang

6:00 pm           Reception

7:30 pm           The Shoeshiner’s Journey 昨日狂想曲

(Li Xiaofeng and Jia Kai, 2015, 76min)


Still from “Trace” by Huang Ji

Saturday Oct. 29

10:00 am         The Enclave 飞地 (Li Wei, 2015, 119min)

1:30 pm           Trace  痕迹 (Huang Ji & Ryuji Otsuka, 2013, 72 min)

Q & A with director Huang Ji

3:45 pm           I am Going to Make Lesbian Porn!  我要拍女女色情片

(Da Jing, 2014, 35min)

4:20 pm           Papa Rainbow 彩虹伴我行 (Fan Popo, 2016, 80min)

7:00 pm           Preachers 传道人 (Lin Xin, 2013, 162min)


Still from "Li Wen at East Lake" by Li Luo
Still from “Li Wen at East Lake” by Li Luo

Sunday Oct. 30

10:00 am         Li Wen at East Lake李文游东湖” (Li Luo, 2015, 117min)

Q & A via Skype

1:30pm            Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping 锤子镰刀都休息 (Geng Jun, 2013, 53min)

2:45pm            CIFF Shorts Program 中国独立影像展短片选辑 (2013-2015, ca. 90min)

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

Butter Lamp酥油灯 Hu Wei (16min)

Ketchup 番茄酱 Guo Chunning & Yan Boshan (6 min)

Distance我们之间 Zhang Xinlan (9 min)

Forever地久天长 Zhong Su (7 min)

Uterus Man 子宫战士Lu Yang (11 min)

Double Act 双簧Ding Shiwei (5 min)

The Castle of Lallation麦城 Xiang Jianheng (18 min)

Horse马 Shen Jie (4 min)

Recycled   照片回收Lei Lei & Thomas Sauvin (5 min)

Food Factory 食品加工厂Zhang Moying (13 min)

Outdoor Sex Prospers Life 野合万事兴Na Yingyu & Zuoxiao Zuzhou (5min)

4:30 pm           Roundtable with filmmakers and scholars

Still from "Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping" by Geng Jun
Still from “Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping” by Geng Jun


Program description (in order of screening schedule)

Every Meeting Seems Parting每次见面都像是告别

Dir WANG Ping王坪

 2015 | 35 mins

As many of her friends die around her, the filmmaker’s mother finally broaches the subject of death with her daughter, asking that her ashes be spread in the ocean. For over sixty years, these rural parents’ lives were isolated from modern society; they have never seen the sea. As their only daughter, Wang Ping decides to film a trip they take together to the ocean, to Weizhou Island.

WANG Ping is an experimental filmmaker who graduated from the School of Intermedia Arts at China Academy of Art in 2015. Her image-making includes experimental shorts, videos, photography and hand-drawn animation etc.


Still from "My Land" by Fan Jian
Still from “My Land” by Fan Jian

My Land吾土

Dir. FAN Jian范俭

2015 | 83 mins

China biggest metropolises have been ringed with strips of farmland, worked intensively by rural migrants who supply vegetables for the cities.   One of these farmers, Chen Jun runs a telephone hotline for Beijing’s migrant workers. Since 2010, director Fan Jian has followed Chen and his wife as attempts were made to confiscate their land for housing development. Refusing to leave without compensation, the small Chen family live for years without electricity or running water. Raising their two children, the contrast between their simple life, committed to principles of fairness contrasts with the greed and grandeur of the middle-class speculators and the architecture they live beside.

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 have been shown in many international film festivals.


Still from "The Shoe-shiner's Journey" by Dir LI Xiaofeng and JIA Kai 黎小
Still from “The Shoe-shiner’s Journey” by
Dir LI Xiaofeng and JIA Kai 

The Shoe-shiner’s Journey 昨日狂想曲

Dir LI Xiaofeng and JIA Kai 黎小峰、贾恺

2015|75 min

Old Liu Guangjian is travelling China, living in a three-wheeled truck, trying to revive the “Learn from Lei Feng” movement by becoming his incarnation. But his own past catches up with him along the way. Liu’s personal past and present are intimately intermingled with the past and present of the nation; their intersections constantly move forward like the spinning wheels of Liu’s van. The film is interspersed with sand-painting scenes that set Liu’s struggles for us in a kind of calligraphic stillness. The director’s own role is provided through diary-like excerpts in his own voice. A humorous, melancholy, and intimate film.

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), and 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.


Still from "The Enclave" by Li Wei
Still from “The Enclave” by Li Wei

The Enclave 飞地 (Li Wei, 2015, 119min)

On Daliang Mountain in Sichuan Province, the village people eat and live with their livestock. Since 2012, along with electricity, the village sees, coming and going, university students who work as volunteer teachers. Villager Yibu Sugan lost his father when he was young and almost died when he was away, working, before returning home to live with his mother. With TV, he suddenly has a new way to learn about the outside world. He praises governmental policies, and starts debating politics, economy and education with the teachers. Quietly observational, the film leaves us reflecting on rural transformations and their conflicts in China today.

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.


Still from "Trace" by Huang Ji
Still from “Trace” by Huang Ji and Ryuji Otsuku


Dir HUANG Ji and Ryuji Otsuka黄骥and大冢龙治

2013 | 72 min

New mother and 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. This is their 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, born and raised in Hunan Province, studied screenwriting at the Beijing Film Academy. Her feature directorial debut, Egg and stone, was shot in her hometown in 2011 with non-professional actors. This film premiered at the 41st International Film Festival Rotterdam and won a Tiger Award.

Ryuji Otsuka was born in 1972 in Tokyo. After graduating from the Nihon University, he worked as a TV making documentaries. In 2005 he started his filmmaking career in Beijing, acting as DP of Huang Ji’s film, The Warmth Of The Orange Peel and Egg and Stone.


Still from "I Am Going to Make Lesbian Porn" by Dajing
Still from “I Am Going to Make Lesbian Porn” by Dajing

I Am Going to Make Lesbian Porn我要拍女女色情片

Dir. Dajing大京

2014 | 35 mins

Dajing decided to make lesbian porn for girls. So she invited a bisexual friend, Xiao Ying, and a straight girl, Ruo Han, to be in her film. They discovered many other issues in the process of making it: issues of women’s desires and their bodies, and perhaps, even issues related to men.

Dajing is a transgender independent filmmaker. She was born in Beijing where she now lives. In 2011 she embarked on making experimental, highly personal films, writing her own scripts. Her works include We Are Tomboys, Lesbian Death and 19 Love Stories.


Still from "" by
Still from “Papa Rainbow” by Fan Popo

Papa Rainbow 彩虹伴我行

Dir FAN Popo 范坡坡

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.

FAN Popo 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


Still from "Preachers" by Lin Xin
Still from “Preachers” by Lin Xin

Preachers 传道人

Dir LIN Xin 林鑫

2013 | 180 mins

This documentary about faith tells 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 path of service or stories of people’s weaknesses and growth, or disputes within the church community, the film attempts an objective and accurate 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, painter, poet and filmmaker, was born in 1960 in Tongchuan City, Shaanxi Province. His solo painting and calligraphy exhibitions include the Art Museum of China in Beijing and in Xi’an. A a collection of poems is entitled “Ah! Father – Dark Memories.” In 2003, Lin turned to documentary. His works include Chen Lu (2005), Sanlidong (2007), Classmates (2009) and Gas (2010).


Still from "Li Wen at East Lake" by Li Luo
Still from “Li Wen at East Lake” by Li Luo

Li Wen at East Lake 李文游东湖

Dir. LI Luo   李珞

2015 | 117 mins

This film that teeters on the boundary of documentary and fiction opens with portrait of Wuhan’s East Lake that quickly evolves into a detective story—or does it? The title character is a cop who is tracking a vaguely suspicious figure around the lake, but his rambling trajectory turns out to be, if anything, an excuse for Li Wen 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. Director Luo Li’s follow-up to Emperor Visits the Hell  (2013) may be the finest work to date from one of the most distinctive voices in modern Chinese cinema

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) , Emperor Visits the Hell (2012, Dragons and Tigers Prize, 2012 Vancouver International Film Festival). A retrospective of Li Luo’s cinema was held at the TIFF Cinematheque, Toronto in July 2015.


Still from "Hammer and Sickle are Sleeping" by Geng Jun
Still from “Hammer and Sickle are Sleeping” by Geng Jun

The Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping 锤子镰刀都休息

Dir GENG Jun   耿軍

2013 | 52 mins

Two bad guys meet another bad guy, and they get together to do bad things. But they never succeed in doing bad things due to their ineptitude and weakness. The film tells the story of a hammer wrapped in a towel that cannot quite live out its “hammer destiny”. Geng’s fiction feature depicts the kind of weakness that he feels you can see everywhere. It’s an absurd story of savage circumstances.

GENG Jun was born in 1976 in Heilongjiang Province and is now based in Beijing. He has been making independent films since 2002.


China Independent Film Festival Shorts Program      CIFF短片选辑

Curated by Cao Kai曹恺 and Chen Ping陈平

CAO Kai, acontemporary artist and independent curator was born in 1969, in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province. After graduating from Nanjing University of the Arts he worked in Nanjing TV and established PEEXIE Studio in Nanjing in 2000. He works to bring criticism, historical research and the exhibition of experimental films and video art, together with documentary, new media and digital art. As an artist

he works in video, photography and installation. He has curated the China Independent Film Festival (CIFF) since 2003. He also participated in various intercontinental art projects relating to Chinese independent films.

CHEN Ping, film and theater producer, curator, graduated from Ecole Supérieure de Réalisation Audiovisuelle in France. His research and curatorial work focuses on independent film and theatre. He has co-curated the Nanjing China Independent Film Festival, and was co-founder and artistic director of Contemporary Theatre Festival for Young Practitioners (Nanjing). He has worked extensively incooperation with universities nad arts organizations abroad . In 2012, Meanwhile he started teaching at Nanjing University of the Arts.


Butter Lamp酥油灯

Dir HU Wei   胡伟

2013 | 32 mins

A young itinerant photographer and his assistant convince Tibetan nomads to be photographed in front of various backgrounds.

Artist HU Wei lives and works in Paris. He graduated from ENSBA (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris) and Fresnoy, National Studio of Contemporary Arts. He works in the plastic arts and in film.



GUO Chunning and YAN Boshan 郭春宁与闫柏屾

2012 | 6’28”

Ketchup is the first work of the Seventies Children Trilogy that describes from the perspective of people born in the 70s, human experiences like facing death, sex and politics.

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


Distance 我们之间

Dir ZHANG Xinlan   张欣澜

2015 | 9’01”

As one of the first group of Mainland students to study and live in Taiwan, the director condenses her four years’ experience in this short. They had been under great scrutiny during this time—four years ago they were anxious about how they looked in Taiwan. Now they are anxious about how they will be accepted back home in China.

ZHANG Xinlan was born in Xiamen. She went to Taiwan as part of the first student exchange in 2011, and graduated from Fu Jen University.



Dir ZHONG Su 钟甦

2015 | 7′ |

In this experimental short film, the plot manifests itself during the actual process of production. The director says: “It contains everything that has been germinated and grown in constant abandonment and compromises, in aimless 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 has degrees in oil painting from Sichuan Fine Arts Institute and from the China Art Academy. His works have appeared in CIFF, Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennale, Across Asia Film Festival, 2nd DC Chinese Film Festival, Beijing Independent Film Festival etc.


Uterus Man子宫战士

Dir LU Yang陆扬

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 that coincidence. The uterine warrior who is a super hero seems to be male, but his 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 双簧

Dir DING Shiwei 丁世伟

2013 | 4’37”

This experimental short takes up the contradictions of how, in spaces fully covered in colorful ideologies, we see the both modern industry and utopian ideals; how

ethnic communities are kept outside of politics, which has certain unspeakable rules and constrains. We imagine being reborn. But, can we truly obtain freedom from violence and metempsychosis?

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   麦城

Dir XIANG Jianheng     项建恒

2015 | 18′

Adapted from Franz Kafka’s The Castle and Luo Guanzhong’s The Wheat City, this film constructs an abstract drama that happens in a virtual castle by experimentally symbolizing the elements from Chinese operas and history. 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.

XIANG Jianheng is an independent filmmaker, teacher and associate professor at the Chinese Academy of Art. Greatly influenced by the Theatre of the Absurd and New-Wave cinemas, he has made seven shorts, which have appeared in international film festivals.


Horse 马

Dir SHEN Jie   沈杰

2013 | 4’17”

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



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


Recycled 照片回收

Dir LEI Lei   雷磊

2012 | 5′

Over the past few years, the filmmaker collected abandoned films from scrap stations around Beijing, finding almost 500,000 35 mm color films that have recorded people’s lives in the past thirty years. He selected 3000 of them to make this animation.

Lei Lei is an independent animation director and multi-media artist. He has 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.


Food Factory 食品加工厂

Dir ZHANG Moying   张墨颖

2015 | 13′

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

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


Outdoor Sex Prospers Life   野合万事兴

Dir  NA Yingyu 那颖禹 and Zuoxiao Zuzhou 左小祖咒

2010 | 5’ 46’’

A film made by collaging footage of four films in different genres: the opera film Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai (1954), the rural story of Youth in Our Village (1959), the war film A Crack Eagle on Sea (1959) and a tale of ethnic minorities, Five Golden Flowers (1959). Several shots that last only for a few seconds come from films made during the Cultural Revolution. The resulting film you see tells the story of two lovers in different lives.

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.