CHINA NOW: Selections from Cinema on the Edge
180 Shaw St
Premiering groundbreaking animations and experimental cinema from across the mainland. Just in time for Chinese New Year, TYPOLOGY is proud to announce our support for CHINA NOW: Independent Visions, in the form of two exciting film screenings we’ll host in Small World Music Centre’s theatre space at Artscape Youngplace this spring!Organized by Toronto-based curator and critic Shelly Kraicer, LA-based producer Karin Chien*, and Chicago-based filmmaker JP Sniadecki, CHINA NOW is the touring arm of Cinema on the Edge, a program of 29 experimental films representing the best of the Beijing Independent Film Festival from 2012-14. Launched to wide acclaim in New York last summer, Cinema on the Edge will debut in Toronto this March with a monthlong program of eight documentaries hosted by TIFF Cinematheque, under the series title The Crisis of the Real: New Chinese Independent Documentaries.Following fast on TIFF's heels, TYPOLOGY will present our own selection from the original series: three groundbreaking animations and one experimental feature which comprise an eye- and ear-opening program of independent contemporary cinema from across China. Featuring filmmakers from Shenyang in the north to Guangzhou in the south, and Tibet in the west to Taiwan in the east, this selection bespeaks volumes on the vastness of space, time scales, and cultural difference experienced by these artists, who must find their voices in a country where censorship remains the order of the day.…And now for the program:CHINA NOW | Selections from Cinema on the Edge, presented by TYPOLOGYThe Animations (3 films, approx 1 hour total screening time)THE HUNTER AND THE SKELETON, 2012 | Dir. BAI BIN | 26 minThis splendid animation of an Eastern Tibetan folk tale is a visually inventive mash-up of traditional Tibetan thangka painting techniques and 80s video arcade game aesthetics. Rendered in Flash with a score that blends native Tibetan music and contemporary sounds, it is an audiovisual delight that goes much deeper — a riveting adventure story with an allegorical twist.FAMILY REUNION, 2012 | Dir. CHEN LI-HUA | 18 minA-mei, an indigenous Taiwanese woman working long hours in a fish processing plant, is called home for the Harvest Festival, but her boss refuses to let her go. Chen’s imaginatively drawn tale is artfully rendered in stop motion style — a moving family portrait with a quirky, storybook feel that has universal appeal.PERFECT CONJUGAL BLISS, 2014 | Dir. ZHONG SU | 5.5 minSurreal and playful, this lusciously rendered animation streams across the screen like a magical river of plenty or a fantastical living scroll emerging and transforming out of the wreckage of a virtual wasteland. Accumulating a hallucinatory visual force which recalls the explosive ending to Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point, Perfect Conjugal Bliss deeply satisfies the eyes even as it questions the origins and implications of humanity’s insatiable desires.The Feature Film (approx 1 hour screening time)YUMEN, 2013 | Dir. HUANG XIANG, JP SNIADECKI, XU RUOTAO | 65 minThis collaboration between two Chinese avant-garde artists and an American experimental filmmaker is a visually stunning ficto-documentary aptly described by curator Shelly Kraicer as a celluloid psycho-collage. Shot on 16mm film, it’s set in the largely abandoned oil town of Yumen in China’s Gansu province near Mongolia. Moving between a barren yet starkly beautiful landscape and what’s left of a city torn by economic collapse and decay, signs of life (or afterlife?) in the form of nameless, wandering characters (ghosts?) perform impromptu, absurd, poignant, or poetic actions and interventions to the sounds of 70s Taiwan pop, contemporary Korean girl bands, and much more. A meditation on survival, this follow-up to Sniadecki’s 2012 film, People’s Park, is an altogether different take on life in contemporary China. Made with the support of Harvard University’s Sensory Ethnography Lab. 16mm-to-digital, in Mandarin Chinese and Gansu dialect with English subtitles."Fusing documentary and staged scenes in a manner reminiscent of Godard from the 1970s onward, Yumen brings dignity and beauty to a place that lies in near ruins, and was the finest piece of cinematic portraiture I witnessed at this year’s Berlinale."— Travis Jeppesen, Artforum"When a film like this articulates its setting… a once oil-rich beacon of production in the northwest Gansu province that has since been nearly abandoned — one realizes how few films understand how to create a vivid sense of place…. The monstrous, pulsating rhythm of drilling, the contrastive contours of the landscape, and the lonely group of buildings contained therein. The sound design brings forth a new layer of varying ironies and heartbreak — the very fabric of a broken space."— Adam Cook, MubiSniadecki will be in Toronto to introduce his masterful 2012 film, People’s Park, as part of TIFF’s lineup of documentary films from CHINA NOW. Go see it and meet him on March 15 at TIFF, then come watch Yumen, his follow-up to People’s Park, with us!…SCREENING DETAILSThere will be one evening screening and one daytime screening, each beginning with a brief introduction and closing with a short Q+A:Wednesday, March 30 from 7–9 pm (animations from 7–8, feature from 8–9 + Q&A)Sunday, April 3 from 1–3 pm (animations from 1–2 + kids' Q&A, feature from 2–3)Space is limited; advance ticket purchase recommended — plus save up to $3 per ticket purchased in advance! Advance tickets are available for the full program or each half separately (animations or feature) as follows:$12 for the full program$8 for just the animations (bring the kids! suggested age 5+ / 3 shorts / approx 1hr)or just the feature film (bring the film buff! experimental documentary / approx 1 hr)Limited tickets will be available at the door for $15/full program or $10/half program40% of every ticket sold will go to the featured filmmakers in China.For more information on the films, the filmmakers, and the organizers, visit www.typology.ca/exhibition/china-now…*Incidentally, Karin Chien is also the producer of UNTITLED (STRUCTURES), 2012 by Leslie Hewitt in collaboration with cinematographer Bradford Young, currently on view as part of the exhibition Collective Stance at The Power Plant through May 15.
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