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Chinese Independent Documentary Series: Women’s Fifty Minutes and Mei Mei

Presented by the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies and the REEL CHINA Documentary Biennial.

March 6, 2008 7:00pm to 10:00pm

 Women’s Fifty Minutes, Shi Tou, 2005, 55m.
This experimental documentary is a compilation of various shots and impressions of the filmmaker’s trip to her girlfriend’s hometown as well as her daily wandering in Beijing. Through the impressionistic non-narrative, the filmmaker presents a deeply personal observation of women’s changing roles in traditional ceremonies in provincial China as well as in modern metropolitan life.

Mei Mei, dir. Gao Tian, 2005, 82 mins.
Mei Mei is a transvestite male actor who is eager to find his true love. He searches among gays and transvestites. In 2004 he finally meets a man of his match who also accepts Mei Mei as he is. They have a public wedding ceremony. Mei Mei is very confident about his marriage and his future. His friends throw a farewell party for him before he leaves for Shanghai where he and his love are to embark on a life together.  However, things are not as perfect as planned, and his marriage proves harder than expected. Finally Mei Mei comes back to Beijing. He feels embarrassed when running into old friends. Also, he runs into financial problems worse than ever before.


Independent Chinese documentary filmmaking has flourished for over a decade. Produced outside the official or commercial channels by dedicated individual filmmakers, these works—mostly in DV format—are valuable documents of alternative histories and life styles in contemporary China. For our series, we have selected documentaries—divided into five categories (history, education, documentary ethics, minorities, women and gender)—that are not only recent productions but also offer a rich, varied, up-to-date, and intimate view of contemporary China. By presenting exemplary works on various, sometimes controversial topics in different styles, we hope to stimulate discussions of not only the contents of the documentaries but the process, and sometimes the problems, of documentary filmmaking (and by extension history writing) itself.


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