DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary film festival, brings to screens a wide range of documentaries from well-known and influential directors and emerging filmmakers covering prominent to obscure subjects.
This year, among the eight-day festival’s program of 110 feature-length documentaries and scores of shorts are six films by Chinese and Chinese American filmmakers who offer delve into issues that and introduce people who might otherwise not be known outside of China or be forgotten to history.
China’s rapid erection of infrastructure and bureaucratic corruption are well-known, and The Road, with unusual access, provides a first-hand look at players in the bureaucracy and the people affected by their stated . Issues more familiar to us in the United States — elder care, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, and access to health care — are considered in Please Remember Me and Emergency Room.
As China urbanizes and modernization changes lifestyles, people are finding ways to maintain tradition while adapting to current trends or even defining a direction. Dai’s Garden profiles the country’s slow food, farm to table pioneer and his project to bring educational opportunities to a rural village, and in The Beekeeper and His Son, generations clash over the best way to continue the family apiary.
Finally, Finding Kukan revives the memory not just a lost 1941 documentary about the Chinese resistance in the Second Sino-Japanese War but also of an unrecognized Chinese American woman from Hawaii who was the driving force behind the film.
The festival runs from November 10 – 17. Screenings for the films listed below take place at both Cinepolis Chelsea, 260 West 23rd Street and IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue. Tickets can be purchased from each film’s page on the DOC NYC site.
Dir. Ruohan Xu, 2016
35 min., China, United States
In English and Chinese
Friday, November 11, 1:45 PM
Screens as part of the New York University showcase
Dai’s Garden profiles Chinese slow-food movement pioneer Dai Jianjun, a farm-to-table restaurateur who is dedicated to bringing back vanishing traditional Chinese culture in an era of rapid urbanization and industrialization.
Dir. Zhang Zanbo, 2015
95 min., China, Denmark
In Chinese with English subtitles
Saturday, November 12, 2:15 PM, NYC Premiere
As part of a $586 billion infrastructure development plan, the Chinese government begins building the massive Xu-Huai Highway. Director Zhang Zanbo provides an in-depth look at the impact of the corruption-filled project in rural Hunan province. Representing the subcontracted construction company, professional problem solver Mr. Meng must contend with the complaints of displaced locals and regional bureaucracy. Meanwhile, exploited laborers face dangerous working conditions and broken promises. When an inspector finds numerous violations, will the project’s future be threatened?
Please Remember Me 《我祇認識妳》
Dir. Zhao Qing, 2015
78 min., China
In Shanghainese with English subtitles
Sunday, November 13, 1:45 PM, NYC premiere
Screens with Grandma Shirley
In this tender and sensitively observed portrait, octogenarians Feng and Lou have been inseparable for over 40 years, but aging and illness threaten their deep bond. Since Lou was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Feng has been her steadfast caretaker, but he’s growing increasingly worried about his own health. Is a nursing home the right solution, and how will Lou handle such a radical change to their living situation?’
The Beekeeper and His Son 《养蜂人家》
Dir. Diedie Weng, 2016
81 min., Switzerland, Canada
In Chinese with English subtitles
Sunday, November 13, 7:15 PM, North American Premiere
In a rural village in northern China, a father/son clash echoes the pull of tradition and modernization. When 20-year-old Maofu returns home after migrant city work, he tries to convince his aging beekeeping father Lao Yu to develop a brand for the family’s honey. Lao Yu instead insists his son first learn the cherished traditional apiary methods he’s practiced for 50 years. Diedie Weng captures their standoff with intimacy, artfulness and unexpected humor.
Director Diedie Weng and producer Susanne Guggenberger will be in attendance.
Dir. Siyi Chen, 2016
31 min., China, United States
In Mandarin and Chinese dialects with English subtitles
Sunday, November 13, 9:55 PM, World Premiere
Screens with Clinica de Migrantes: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
If you fall ill in small-town China, chances are you’ll wind up in a hospital with overworked, underpaid doctors who conduct three-minute consults, carry pepper spray to work for protection from angry patients and are incentivized to help the rich over the poor. In this short film that’s to be developed into a feature-length film, director Siyi Chen explores the shortcomings of China’s hospital system.
The director and composer Dong Liu will be in attendance.
Inquiries regarding the film can be sent to the filmmaker at siyi.chen.pku [at] gmail.com
Dir. Robin Lung, 2016
75 min., United States
In English and Mandarin
Tuesday, November 15, 5:30 PM
Wednesday, November 16, 12:45 PM
Kukan (1941), one of the first documentaries honored with an Academy Award®, was long considered lost. A chronicle of Chinese resistance to Japanese aggression, the project was credited to Rey Scott, an adventurer who had never before made a film. When Hawaiian filmmaker Robin Lung learns that a driving force behind Kukan was Li Ling-Ai, a Chinese-American Hawaiian woman all but erased from its history, she begins investigating the film and its mysterious production, leading to unanticipated discoveries.
The post has been updated to better describe Dai’s Garden