8th Reel China Biennial Showcases Documentaries, Innovative Narratives, Experimental films, and Animations


From October 28 – 30, the Reel China Biennial will present more than twenty Chinese independent films not usually shown in China and NYC.  The screenings are free and open to public and take place at NYU’s Michelson Theater, Department of Cinema Studies, 721 Broadway, 6th Floor.

Presented by NYU’s Asian Film & Media Initiative in the Department of Cinema Studies and the Center for Religion and Media (CRM), Reel China has been bringing the rawest and best Chinese moving images to the New York documentary scene since 2001. Organizers and curators cinema studies professor Zhen Zhang (张真) and anthropology and religious studies professor Angela Zito (司徒安) draw from Chinese independent filmmakers with various backgrounds and award-winning films from top Chinese independent film festivals to share stories that witness the disorienting fragments of everyday lives in fast developing China. Many of the films are documentaries, while some narrative films and experimental films that explore and blur the boundaries of the documentary form, are also showcased,

This year’s festival features both emerging and more experienced filmmakers whose cameras travel across the country and are directed toward themselves and others. Personal and collective memories are explored in stories of a family trip to the sea (Every Meeting Seems Parting 《每次见面都像是告别》) and the journey of a communist protagonist around China (The Shoeshiner’s Journey 《昨日狂想曲》). The different aspects of rural-urban dualities are told through stories of migrant workers fighting against developers for their land (My Land 《吾土》), villagers of remote mountain observing the outside world through television (The Enclave 《飞地》), and an itinerant photographer trying to take pictures Tibetan nomads (Butter Lamp 《酥油灯》).

Meanwhile, other contemporary social issues like China’s relationships with Japan (Trace 《痕迹》) and Taiwan (Distance 《我们之间》) and their meaning to ordinary people, self-exploration of LGBT groups (I Am Going to Make Lesbian Porn! 《我要拍女女色情片》 and Papa Rainbow 《彩虹伴我行》), and the survival story of Christian community in inner cities (Preachers 《传道人》 ) are discussed in shorts and feature-length films  Audacious attempts to deconstruct the absurdity of modern Chinese society can be found in Li Wen at East Lake 《李文漫游东湖》 and The Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping 《锤子镰刀都休息》.

The weekend mini-film festival also presents a shorts program consisting of eleven films curated by Cao Kai and Chen Ping for the China Independent Film Festival.  Through mostly art and experimental films and animation, including one by artist Lu Yang who exhibited in New York two years ago, the program covers a full spectrum of ideas that may resonate with viewers.

Below is a complete list of films and the festival schedule. For film synopses and information about the directors, visit the Reel China homepage.

Friday Oct. 28

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, 83 min) dir. Fan Jian (范俭) (Winner of the “Best Documentary” award at this year’s first International Film Festival at Xining)

Q & A with director Fan Jian (范俭) and producer Isabella Zang (臧妮)

7:30 PM         The Shoeshiner’s Journey 《昨日狂想曲》 (2015, 76 min) dir. Li Xiaofeng (黎小峰) & Jia Kai (贾恺)

Saturday Oct. 29

10:00 AM      The Enclave 《飞地》 (2015, 119 min) dir. Li Wei (李维) (Winner of the “Independent Spirit” Award at the 12th Beijing Independent Film Festival)

1:30 PM         Trace 《痕迹》 (2013, 72 min) dir. Huang Ji (黄骥) & Ryuji Otsuka (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, 35 min) dir. Da Jing (大京)

4:20 PM        Papa Rainbow 《彩虹伴我行》 (2016, 80 min) dir. Fan Popo (范坡坡)

7:00 PM         Preachers 《传道人》 (2013, 180 min) dir. Lin Xin (林鑫)

Sunday Oct. 30

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

2:00 PM         Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping 《锤子镰刀都休息》 (2013, 53 min) dir. Geng Jun (耿军)

3:00 PM         CIFF Shorts Program 《中国独立影像展短片选辑》 (2013-2015, ca. 90 min)

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

4:30PM         Roundtable with filmmakers and scholars

Still from Trace 《痕迹》, courtesy of Reel China

Still from Trace 《痕迹》, courtesy of Reel China

Lead image: Still from Hammer and Sickle Are Sleeping, courtesy of Reel China