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Outcry and Whisper

Wen Hai

Release year: 2018

Run time: 114 min

Film type: Documentary

Synopsis

Shot over an eight-year period (2007-2015), this documentary film aims to present women’s struggle in the private and public spheres, both in China and Hong Kong. It offers a view into the lives of female factory workers, artists, rights activists, and intellectuals—all of whom deal with political violence, SWAT police attacks, sexual harassment, online bullying, long-term separation from family, arbitrary treatment by transnational factory management, and/or poverty in their home villages.

The film depicts rural women working in factories in the Pearl River Delta who self-organize, protesting for their basic payment and social insurance. Meanwhile, activist and young intellectual Zeng Jinyan creates a film diary in secret to maintain her own sanity, detailing her experiences of resisting gendered pressure and political oppression in order to gain self-autonomy and awareness. In following her life in Hong Kong and China, we are taken to feminists gathering in Ai Xiaoming’s home, which became a semi-public space in the party-state. A Chinese artist cuts her face in a performance to express her own resistance to violence against women.

Irish visual artist Trish McAdam produces and directs animations in the film, employing an irreverent style to attract younger audiences. Through animations, she links the experience of female factory workers in digital China and during the British Industrial Revolution, enhances footage of surveillance in a factory office, reflects on the Foxconn factory suicides, and considers the traumatic impact of violence against women.

 

Director biography

Wen Hai studied at the Beijing Film Academy and has since 2001 been active as an independent film director. Among his best known films are Floating Dust (2004), which won the Prix Georges Beauregard at the 16th Festival International du Documentaire in Marseille in 2005; Dream Walking (2006), awarded the Grand Prize at the 2006 Cinéma du Réel; and the film We, which won the Horizons Special Mention award at the 2008 Venice International Film Festival. Wen Hai also worked as a cameraman on Wang Bing's film Three Sisters (2012). His 2016 book The Gaze of Exile: Witnessing Chinese Independent Documentary Films (《放逐的凝视——见证中国独立纪录片》)is published in Taipei by Tendency.