A pioneering UK celebration of the 10th anniversary of the China Independent Film Festival will take place 12 — 15 May 2014 in Newcastle, then touring to Nottingham (16-18) and London (16-17). Organised by the China Independent Film Festival and the University of Newcastle in partnership with the University of Nottingham and the China Visual Festival, this unique celebratory event consists of retrospective screenings of CIFF award-winning films.
The four-day event in Newcastle will provide the audience with an exciting festival atmosphere and will be the most exciting gathering of contemporary Chinese independent documentaries, fiction films and animations yet seen in the UK.
The China Independent Film Festival, taking place every autumn in the city of Nanjing, has been an influential event for Chinese independent filmmakers. It has been called “the most important film festival in China” by Professor Chris Berry, the leading scholar in Chinese film studies Founded in 2003, endorsed by the leading Chinese film directors such as Xie Fei, Zhang Yuan and Lou Ye.
The CIFF has nurtured a large number of talented filmmakers with its commitment to independent thinking and freedom of expression. It serves as the main domestic platform for showcasing debut films by emerging Chinese independent filmmakers who have gone on to win awards on the international circuit, such as the Golden Bear winner Diao Yinan and Dragons & Tigers Award winner Li Luo.
In its first decade, the CIFF has screened and collected hundreds of outstanding independent films. The Tenth Anniversary of the China Independent Film Festival UK Celebration will present a selection of the best films from the past ten years, and will host conversations between the UK audience and two independent filmmakers from China, Pema Tseden and Feng Yan.
Pema Tseden is recognised as the first Tibetan filmmaker with his three masterpieces The Silent Holy Stone (2004), The Search (2009) and Old Dog (2011). All his films revolve around his hometown in Tibet and contrast with the exoticizing fiction features that have been made by outsiders. His films are all made with an amateur Tibetan cast, and shot in the Tibetan language. Pema Tseden is the first director of Chinese nationality to do this.
The event will show his latest film Old Dog as the opening film.
Feng Yan is the most important female documentarian in China. Her documentary Bing’Ai (2007) won the Ogawa Shinesuke Award for most promising director at the tenth Yamagata International Film Festival in 2007. During her first visit to the Three Gorges Dam, Feng was struck by the project’s impact on the environment and upon local people. In particular, she was attracted by the stories of local women who eventually become her subjects in Bing’Ai. She followed this family for ten years in order to make this film. Our event will screen this masterpiece and offers a master-class with Feng Yan, entitled ‘The Third Eye” in which Feng will talk about her own experience as a female documentary filmmaker.
Apart from a selection of CIFF awarded film screenings, the organisers offers the audience an exhibition, a workshop and two talks on Chinese independent cinema and film festival circuit.
The archival exhibition, A Decade of the China Independent Film Festival, will offer a detailed and evocative overview of the history of the China Independent Film Festival (CIFF), which takes place every autumn in the city of Nanjing, in Jiangsu Province, China. Along with the retrospective screenings of CIFF award-winning films and a workshop focusing on the formation of film festivals, this exhibition recounts the story of the emergence and development of the CIFF through a selection of archive materials including texts, images, and videos. At the same time, the exhibition is a window onto the historical development of Chinese independent cinema more broadly over the past decade. The President of the CIFF committee Zhang Xianmin will give a talk on the CIFF and Chinese independent cinema at the exhibition launch.
The workshop, Film Festivals in Focus, aims to establish dialogue for the first time between film festival curators, filmmakers and researchers from both the UK and China. The workshop will bring together Cao Kai, Artistic Director of the China Independent Film Festival (CIFF), Zhang Xianmin, President of the CIFF committee, and Chris Fujiwara, Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, to discuss the formation of their respective film festivals. Following their conversation, they will be joined by Prof. Chris Berry (King’s College London) and Dr. Luke Robinson (University of Sussex) for a round-table discussion, and the audience will have the chance to pose questions to these esteemed practitioners and scholars.
The festival will present a collection of Chinese animated short films on May 13. Following the films, CIFF artistic director, Cao Kai, will give a talk on Chinese contemporary animated films, focusing on the animated films screened earlier in the day.
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