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New Chinese Documentaries: The Folk Memory Project

October 19, 2012

An all-day event

Kellen Auditorium 65 5th Ave
9 am-noon and 1-5 pm

Wollman Hall, 65 West 11th St., 5th floor.
7-10 pm
Oct 10 '12

Oct 3 '12


On October 19, 2012, an all-day program featuring documentary films presented by their makers will explore the collective memory of the Great Chinese Famine as told by villagers who survived.  Filmmakers Luo Bing, Zhang Mengqi, and Zou Xueping are members of the 80-hou generation (born after 1980); they will present their films, which have been showcased at festivals in China, Europe, and North America.  The New School is one of several stops for these filmmakers on their current tour of American universities in the Northeast.

Daytime events will be held from 9 to 5 pm in Kellen Auditorium located in the lobby of Parsons The New School for Design at 66 Fifth Avenue at the corner of 13th Street.  These screenings and discussions are open to all New School students, faculty, and staff.   The filmmakers will be joined by New School faculty Lei Ping (Eugene Lang College), Zhijian Qian (Parsons), and Deirdre Boyle (NSPE) for a panel discussion on documenting collective memories of the Great Leap Forward.  The evening screening of “Treatment,” the latest feature-length work by Wu Wenguang, will be shown at 7 pm in Wollman Hall located in the Eugene Lang Building at 65 West 11th St., 5th floor.  This event is free and open to the public.  It will conclude with a discussion with all four filmmakers.

Wu Wenguang is considered the “father” of the Chinese documentary movement and is a prolific videomaker, writer, programmer, and teacher.  In 2005 he founded The Village Video Project to highlight village self-governance, providing rural villagers with video cameras and lessons in how to shoot their own short works.  These videos revealed a way of life at considerable remove from fast changing urban China today.  What became quickly apparent were the unheralded stories of China’s historic events and social movements of the past half century as revealed by village elders.  The Folk Memory Project was born, and a group of young filmmakers were selected, trained, and sent “home” to their villages or the villages of their parents or grandparents to record the stories of the elders. This all-day event presents works by China’s newest generation of filmmakers along with discussion of what they discovered about life during The Great Leap Forward and Famine.  Films screened will include: Luo Village: Me and Ren Dingqi (2011, 79 min) by Luo Bing; Satiated Village(2011, 88 min) by Zou Xueping ; and Self-Portrait: At 47 KM (2011, 77 min) by Zhang Mengqi.  A panel drawn from The New School’s faculty will discuss their work with them, including Lei Ping (Eugene Lang College), Zhijian Qian (Parsons), and Deirdre Boyle (NSPE). 

Wu Wenguang is a prolific videomaker, performance artist, and writer based in Beijing and the co-founder of Caochangdi Workstation where he teaches documentary production and curates festivals of new work.  In the evening, Wu will present his latest feature-length documentary, Treatment(2010, 80 min), which was inspired by memories of his now deceased mother captured in images he made with her over 12 years.  He will be joined by his mentees to discuss the importance of recuperating collective memory in China and the development of independent documentary today.  This program has been organized by Deirdre Boyle, Associate Professor in the School of Media Studies and former director of their Graduate Certificate in Documentary Studies.  Co-sponsors of this event include the School of Media Studies at the New School for Public Engagement, The India China Institute, the School of Art, Media, and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design, and International Student Services.