Each year the Chinese Visual Festival appoints a jury of industry and academic experts to select the very best of the films screened at the festival. Three awards are made, with Special Mentions being made to highlight other films that have particularly impressed. In 2013, First Prize went to Huang Weikai for his stunning ‘Disorder’, followed by Pan Zhiqi for ‘Lost Wall’ and Cheuk Cheung for ‘My Way’ in Second and Third Place respectively.
CVF is delighted to announce that Jurors Victor Fan and Tony Rayns have agreed on the following awards:
‘LITTLE PROLETARIAN’ (director Shen Jie, China)
Of all the recent documentaries about punkish, disaffected kids in China’s provinces, Shen Jie’s film stands out as especially thoughtful and intelligently put together. Whether his camera is on the back of 14-year-old Hai’er’s motorbike or framing the comings and goings in grungy interiors, Shen finds the optimum balance between engagement with the petty criminal and analysis of his problems.
‘THE COLD WINTER’ (director Zheng Kuo, China)
The Chinese state’s shabby treatment of its independent artists comes into sharp focus in Zheng Kuo’s epic documentation of the enforced evictions from three “artist colonies” in East Beijing during the freezing winter of 2010/11. The film shows not only the ingenious campaign of protests (the “warm winter plan”) but also the increasingly acrimonious debates which split the campaign. A spirited contribution to the fight for grass-roots democracy in China.
‘DOWNSTREAM’ (director Zune Kwok, Hong Kong)
Fiction with a strong back-beat of documentary, Zune Kwok’s film is a wonderful example of a calculatedly “offhand” approach to storytelling. A young Indian man living in Hong Kong (and fluent in Cantonese) faces the challenge of raising money fast to pay off a debt. His energy and resourcefulness are celebrated with great wit, flair and charm.
‘FROG’ (director Chiang Ming-Wei, Taiwan)
‘Frog’ is a truly refreshing debut of young director Chiang Ming-Wei. The wandering of two high-school girls who decided to skip school and search for their imaginary ‘Little France’ can be understood as a spiritual odyssey of two high-school girls. Chiang’s camera manages to put her audience in the shoes of these two teenagers, allowing them to revisit those sensations, and perhaps rather naïve thoughts about life we all had when we were sixteen!
‘GRAND CANAL’ (director Johnny Ma, China/USA)
Studying film in New York, Johnny Ma recalls the impossible circumstances surrounding his father’s death – and gives his father the fulfilment he never had in life. It’s a grand emotional gesture, but executed with clever understatement. A film of piercing sincerity.
Tony Rayns is a London-based filmmaker, critic and festival programmer with a special interest in the cinemas of East Asia. He writes regularly for Sight & Sound, Film Comment and other magazines, and has edited and contributed to books on Chinese, Japanese and Korean cinemas, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Garin Nugroho, et al.
Until 2013, he programmed East Asian films for the London Film Festival. His own films include ‘New Chinese Cinema’ (1988), ‘The Jang Sunwoo Variations’ (2001) and ‘Jang Sunwoo in November’ (2006). As part of the festival, Tony Rayns will also give a lecture on The Secret History of Chinese Independent Cinema at King’s College on Saturday 17th May at 14:00, as well as taking part in a Panel Discussion on Independent Filmmaking in China.
Victor Fan is Lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London. He graduated with a Ph.D. from the Film Studies Program and the Comparative Literature Department of Yale University, and an MFA in Film and Television Productions at the University of Southern California. He was Assistant Professor at McGill University, Department of East Asian Studies between 2010 and 2012.
Fan has publications in peer-reviewed journals and anthology including The World Picture Journal, Camera Obscura, A Companion to Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Screen, Film History and CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture. Furthermore, his book Cinema Approaching Reality: Locating Chinese Film Theory will be published in Spring 2015 by the University of Minnesota Press.
The 2014 Chinese Visual Festival runs 7 – 18th May at King’s College London, featuring guest directors Jia Zhangke, Pema Tseden from Tibet and Chen Yin Yen from Taiwan, plus more than 40 independent films from the Chinese speaking world, a local filmmakers session, debates, panel sessions and more.