China Revealed: How New Documentaries Explore a Side of the Country Never Seen Before

  • Indiewire
China Revealed: How New Documentaries Explore a Side of the Country Never Seen Before
The following essay was produced as part of the 2017 Locarno Critics Academy, a workshop for aspiring film critics that took place during the 70th edition of the Locarno Film Festival.

Two Chinese independent films—Wang Bing’s Golden Leopard-winning “Mrs. Fang” and Xu Bing’s “Dragonfly Eyes”— competed for the Golden Leopard at this year’s Locarno International Film Festival (both played Tiff a few weeks later). Wang and Xu are established names whose works speak to the intersection between cinema and contemporary art. Both of their films belong to the category of experimental/conceptual documentary, and together they provide distinctive windows into contemporary Chinese society. At the same time, the differences between them couldn’t be any greater. They are formal opposites: when handling images of the real, Wang is minimalist, and abstinent, austere, while Xu is maximalist, provocative and melodramatic.

Commissioned by Documenta 14 and originally conceived as a video art piece,
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