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The Incident of Zeng Wuhua

Mao Chenyu

Release year: 2003

Run time: 40 mins

Film type: Documentary


This film was shot spontaneously in an accidental situation. I was aware of the situation and made an instant, impromptu decision to film it. The filming approach was based on a natural observation. In the secluded villages deep in the central mountains of China, policy-related events generally do not attract onlookers. The people present at the scene primarily consisted of the parties involved in the event, administrative personnel, relatives of those involved, and a few onlookers. In the public consciousness, events that are considered indecent or scandalous usually do not attract onlookers because it is seen as irrational and immoral to witness such events. Traditionally, observing indecent events is secretly deemed as unethical. Therefore, as a filmmaker and an onlooker, my role was neither that of the parties involved or their relatives, nor that of administrative personnel; I was simply an onlooker. However, considering that the person holding the camera is "empowered" with the authority of administrative personnel by the local people, I believe the viewing of this film was done from the perspective of administrative personnel. Like the administrative personnel handling this event, I gained a basic understanding of the event and made immediate judgments based on laws and established procedures. The film does not present a deep exploration of the event itself. It attempts to objectively and distantly document the process of administrative personnel handling the event. I believe that recording the functioning of the current public mechanisms with natural imagery and functionality can provide vivid, human, and tangible archives for future research on these mechanisms. I refer to this recording approach as "restoration." While the act of "restoration" carries the function of archiving, its inner natural imagery and functionality also occasionally release the simple brilliance of beauty and poetry.


Director biography

Mao Chenyu, born in 1976, hails from Songyuan Village, Xinqiang Town, Yueyang City, Hunan Province. After completing his studies in Inorganic Non-metallic Materials at the School of Materials Science and Engineering, Tongji University in 2000, he began to focus on image-based practices. "Rice Cinema" is a series of visual experiments initiated by Mao Chenyu in 2003. Primarily employing ethnographic approaches within the realm of cinema, his works delve into obscured individual experiences, rural narratives and languages, ethnic differences, land politics, and other related topics. Mao's filming predominantly takes place within the vast region surrounding Yueyang in Hunan, extending to Shennongjia in Hubei, and Northeastern Guizhou, which encompasses the Dongting Lake area. Through capturing rice cultivation and exploring the cultural, agricultural, and social aspects intertwined with rice, he presents the will to exist and the spiritual lineage associated with it. Since 2013, the artist has expanded his language structures through exhibitions, lectures, interdisciplinary collaborations, and other mediums of expression.