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Gaze of Exile: Witnessing Chinese Independent Documentary

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 camera man on WangBing’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.

When speaking of his films, Wen Hai says modestly that he is just trying to present some “citizen” images. This awe-inspiring humility demonstrates a certain courage on behalf of the poets and heroes in his film, and this courage also allows people to hear and see the reality whitewashed by neon lights, mobile phones, skyscrapers and the Olympics. This form of contemplation is a poem in the night and a calm decision. It is the silence between words. This form is film. —— Marie-Pierre Duhamel- Muller, Director, Cinéma du Réel Film Festival, Centre Pompidou, France

This is an indispensable record of the history of Chinese independent documentaries and film festivals. —— Zhang Zhen, Professor, Department of Film Studies, New York University

The text is concise, clean, plain, clear, firm, and fearless just like the person. Not all exiles can write so decisively. This is a first-hand account of those who experienced the era. It is enjoyable to read and a precious record of the era. —— Cao Kai, Founder of the China Independent Film Festival

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