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Independent Film-making in Contemporary China

The Orange County World Affairs Council presents a dinner and talk by Professor Paul Pickowicz on how independent film-making has developed in China.

April 26, 2018 5:30pm to 9:00pm

Everyone knows there is state-sector filmmaking in China closely supervised closely by the government. Much of it falls into the propaganda or commercial light entertainment categories. What many people outside China do not know is that non-state-sector independent filmmaking also takes place in China (ever since about 1990).  

Independent cinema has shown the unfiltered and at times undesirable aspects of a country keen on perfect displays, and the Chinese government has retaliated with intense regulation. Independent cinema has become a conflict over whom and what ultimately is presented as China. Unlike Western indie films, which seek independence from the dominance of Hollywood’s silver screen, non-state Chinese films have sought independence from the confines of censorship. You won’t see the work on TV, in theaters, or in other state-controlled venues, but it gets made and is circulated in various ways nonetheless. It tends to deal with real social issues and problems that the state sector neglects or avoids. 

Dr. Paul Pickowicz is one of the country’s leading historians on modern China with 15 books (2 on this subject) to his credit. Professor Pickowicz currently serves as Distinguished Professor of History and Chinese Studies as well as Endowed Chair in Modern Chinese History at the University of California, San Diego. A true interdisciplinary scholar, his work has investigated the impact of the Cultural Revolution on Chinese peasants, the history of Chinese cinema, Cold War propaganda strategies, rural protest and Chinese soft-power initiatives. His book “Chinese Village, Socialist State,” was called “by far the best book on the impact of the Chinese Communist Party on peasant life” by The New York Review of Books. 

Complete with sample clips from different films, Professor Pickowicz will be discussing what motivates these filmmakers (many of whom he knows), and how their work is received.

WACOC Member $75, Non-Member $90, Student $50