Independent cinema has been at the forefront of socially-engaged and artistically-innovative filmmaking in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since its emergence in the 1990s. Marginalised and largely inaccessible domestically, this cinema has nonetheless functioned as a dynamic counterweight to official discourse around art, truth, history, reality and ethics, while simultaneously exploring alternative spaces, places, voices, and images that have been ignored or misrepresented in mainstream Chinese media. Chinese Independent Cinema Observer is a bi-lingual peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the study of Chinese independent films and film culture, particularly of mainland China. It publishes three times a year on the official website of Chinese Independent Film Archive (CIFA). The editorial team is made up of twelve film scholars and/or independent filmmakers across the world who are eager to push the boundaries as a team and to create a journal that is inclusive, retrospective, creative and interactive.
This inaugural issue ‘Sino-Japanese Connections in Independent Film Cultures’ seeks to understand Chinese independent cinema, together with its historical trajectories, spaces, and transformations, by situating it within and alongside the cinematic-cultural interconnections between China and Japan of the recent three decades (1989-2020). We (the editorial team and all those who have participated and contributed to this issue) have been fortunate enough to gather a group of thinkers, witnesses, and practioners who are familiar with the Chinese and/or Japanese contexts so that this issue could demarcate the trajectories and tease out the clues (archival materials, pictures, and oral histories) of this relationship. However, this issue does not seek to provide a so-called ‘panoramic view’ and the ‘one and only’ historical narrative apropos Japanese-Chinese independent film connections. Rather, we use this platform as an entry point to demonstrate how complicated the interconnections are, their politics, and how meaningful it would be to engage in these discussions in the future.