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Ending or Starting – Researching the Fragments of the Pre-history of Chinese Independent Cinema



Based on first-hand research, this article employs a non-linear and media archaeological mode to investigate historical materials and research samples, in particular, Wen Pulin’s The Big Earthquake, Wu Wenguang’s Bumming in Beijing and Hao Zhiqiang’s Wind. It proposes to replace research on filmmakers and their films with research on their filmmaking process, in order to reveal the nature of the historical scene more comprehensively and precisely. This article argues that the Chinese independent film movement did not originate from internal evolution and generational change within the domain of Chinese cinema, but emerged accidentally out of the ‘85 Art Movement’, the most avant-garde cultural movement of the time. The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests abruptly halted this process; some ongoing projects disappeared quickly or only exist as fragments in other art fields. The goals of this article are to connect these historical fragments, infer some hidden or obscured facts, and establish the timeframe of the pre-history of Chinese independent cinema.