In the past two decades, Chinese independent filmmakers have used various forms such as drama, dance, music and performance art in filmmaking. In the field of documentary alone, although the observational mode of documentary has been prevalent for a long time, other modes – including the performative mode – do exist and they have enriched the styles and meanings of the documentary genre. These forms blur the boundaries between fiction and reality, documentation and performance, and cinema and theatre. They also foreground filmmakers’ subjectivities and problematise taken-for-granted notions such as the objectivity of documentary representation, the actuality of social realities and everyday experiences, as well as the singularity of medium and art forms. Meanwhile, the organic integration of filmmaking and everyday life, together with the proliferation of socially engaged film, art, theatre activism in China, have also laid solid foundations for these performative forms of documentation and factual modes of performance.
Some examples of these new forms include Wen Hui’s Living Dance Studio and documentary theatre, as well as Fan Popo’s queer filmmaking and screen activism. Using innovative forms such as ‘dance image’ and ‘theatre image’, the filmmakers examine history, interrogate humanity and engage withs social realities. These cutting-edge works point to innovative ways of cinematic representation, social engagement and academic theorisation vis-à-vis the mutual imbrication of documentation and performance in independent Chinese cinema.
This topic also raises questions about the ontology of cinema in contemporary and mediatised contexts, as well as the genealogy and cultural specificities of Chinese cinema. In an age of media convergence and genre hybridity, the intermedia forms of filmmaking and transmedia forms of storytelling should be recognised not as an exception but as a necessity.We can perhaps use the old term ‘shadow-play’ (yingxi) and the classical aesthetics of ‘fictional reality’ (xushi) to think about the historical, social and documentation functions of cinema, as well as the theatricality and narrativity of filmic representation and everyday life.
This special issue of Chinese Independent Cinema Observer focuses on experimental forms of Chinese independent cinema that infuse different medium, genre and narrative. They include but are not limited to
- case studies of filmmakers and creative works (e.g. Wen Hui and Fan Popo’s films and social engagement)
- cinema and performance
- documentary theatre and other forms of post-dramatic theatre
- the performative mode of documentary
- screen, art and social activism
- the use of moving image in theatrical, musical, artistic and dance performance
- intermediality and transmedia storytelling
We welcome contributions in the following formats:
scholarly article (no more than 8000 words in English; 12000 in Chinese)
film, exhibition and festival review (no word limit)
director’s and curator’s notes (no more than 8000 words in English; 12000 in Chinese )
Chinese Independent Cinema Observer is a bilingual international journal. We welcome Chinese and/or English language submissions. Please submit your articles to the editors of this issue by Email (Dr Hongwei Bao firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr Tiecheng Li email@example.com) before 30 October 2022.
Please refer to the Chinese Independent Film Archive website for journal style guides and past issues: https://www.chinaindiefilm.org/publications/chinese-independent-cinema-observer/
Anticipated publishing date:
Chinese Independent Cinema Observer is as an open-access e-journal published on the Chinese Independent Film Archive website. This special issue is expected to come out in September 2023.
If you have any questions or suggestions about this special issue, please contact the special issue editors by Email.