I haven’t been terribly active on this blog in the past month, but I have a good excuse – two, actually. One is that I’ve been diligently working on another draft of my script, just in time for it to be shopped at the film market of the Shanghai International Film Festival next month. I won’t be able to go however as I’ll be tied up in the launch of another venture, one that has had me watching dozens of Chinese movies and cold-calling Chinese film scholars and other academics for the past few months. Things are going well enough that I thought to make mention of this venture, especially following the success of our first official screening.
dGenerate Films is a venture spearheaded by my good friend and indie producer extraordinaire Karin Chien. Last year through some resourceful linking among her extensive network of contacts, she was able to bring together an impressive group of collaborators, funders, filmmakers, resource providers and general supporters for a common goal: to bring the real life visions of contemporary independent and underground cinema from China into the spotlight. By partnering with the Tribeca Film Institute and Amazon.com’s new digital delivery platform Reframe, dGenerate will distribute previously undistributed media from China via on-demand DVD and download. We are set to launch this summer with a dozen or so titles that we think represents the most aesthetically cutting edge and socially incisive work that American audiences have yet to see.
Take for instance Supergirls!, a candid documentary that looks at the single biggest display of electoral democracy that ever occurred in China’s history: namely, the voting for the first winner of China’s answer to American Idol. Director Jian Yi spent the better part of a year following 10 of the 80,000 teenage girls trying out for Super Girl Singing Contest, China’s most popular TV show ever. More than just a reality-TV pop piece, the documentary exposes an intriguing subtext to the phenomenon of the show, as the tomboyish winner of the inaugural contest inspires a wave of androgyny affecting millions of Chinese girls from city to countryside. You can listen to Jian Yi’s interview with NPR on the film by visiting this NPR link.
The same interview features Karin talking about the dGenerate venture and its relevance in the contemporary landscape of Chinese film distribution, where most independent Chinese filmmakers have no access to a wider audience, let alone the means to make money from their efforts. “”When you watch a martial arts movie, what do you learn about modern China?” Karin wonders. You can read and listen to more of her thoughts and watch an excerpt from Supergirls! here. This third link has a clip from another film we are slated to release, Raised from Dust by Gan Xiao’er, a film depicting the struggles of a rural Chinese Christian community.
Needless to say we are getting some good buzz in advance of our launch. Al Gore’s magazine GOOD also profiled us in their blog, embedding a clip from yet another film planned for our initial lineup, San Yuan Li by Ou Ning and Cao Fei.
Hope you enjoy these links as we build to our summer launch. You know where to find updates!