Mandarin w/ English subtitles
Italy / China
After repeated threats from authorities, the Beijing Independant Film Festival was shut down. The government wouldn't tolerate their showing Spark, an incendiary historical documentary that revealed human rights violations during The Great Leap Forward. News of the festival's cancellation reverberated around the world. Who was the artist whose work had pushed the government past the edge of tolerance?
Away from the limelight, dissident artist Hu Jie has managed to make more than 30 documentaries. Films like Though I Am Gone and Searching for Lin Zhao's Soul are vital to understanding Chinese history and society and preserving memory of its past. Widely recognized as the first artist to dare talk about the Great Famine, the labor camps and the Cultural Revolution in an unfiltered way, Hu Jie is considered China's first historical documentary-maker even though he's blacklisted.
Featuring lush photography and revealing interviews, filmmaker and critic Rita Andreetti's sensitive portrait, The Observer, explores Hu Jie's commitment, tenacity and courage, as well as the toll those have taken in his personal life. Through the creation not only of films but also of woodcuts and paintings, he continues to fight for the truth... but will museums, galleries and movie theaters have the courage to show the work that he makes?
Work-in-progress screening, China Screen Film Festival, France
Work-in-progress screening, Aegean Docs Documentary Film Festival, Greece