What it’s like to be a guerilla filmmaker in China

Just saw this on the Times’ website this morning: an article profiling the emerging class of independent Chinese filmmakers struggling to produce interesting, provocative work without the consent of the overbearing, parochial state. It’s worth noting that, as of late, the Chinese government has been a bit more laissez-faire when it comes to regulating cinematic production, which may have something to do with the critical successes of directors like Jia Zhangke, who is almost universally regarded as being one of the most important artists working in cinema today and who doesn’t shy away from grappling with some of Chinese history’s most controversial topics. Jia’s most recent features (The World, Still Life and 24 City) have been almost Fassbinderian in their critical attitude towards China’s past and present, yet all three were produced with governmental approval (though it’d be naive to believe that the approvals didn’t have a great many strings attached). Of course, the films of directors like Jia remain far more popular on the festival circuit and in American and European art-houses than they are in China, so who knows. But yeah, check out the article.

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