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Huang Weikai’s Disorder explored in essay on Chinese black and white digital filmmaking


The new issue of the Journal of Chinese Cinemas takes a novel approach to the field, with a series of articles focusing on the use of color in Chinese film across different periods and genres. One essay in particular by professor Zhang Zhen of NYU focuses on two Chinese independent documentaries, including Huang Weikai’s Disorder. The abstract reads as follows:


In the past two decades, an alternative film practice in China has actively engaged with digital media, yielding a robust body of DV works, fiction and non-fiction alike. In this article, I trace an evolving trend which uses a black and white ‘digital palette’, visible particularly in independent documentary, and I analyse its aesthetic and socio-political implications. Focusing on Huang Wenhai’s Meng you/Dream Walking (2005) and Huang Weikai’s Xianshi shi guoqu de weilai/Disorder (2009) and their different portrayals of the state of ‘dream walking’ on both individual and massive scales, I probe how they use black and white to move and push the sliding-door between realism, naturalism and surrealism as a means of redefining documentary realism and film-making in the digital era. These unique works boldly explore the new media to seek fitting texture and form for a turbulent postsocialist society bereft in chaos and confusion.

The Journal of Chinese Cinemas can be ordered at Intellect Books.

Full table of contents:

Margaret Hillenbrand Guest editor’s introduction

Margaret Hillenbrand Chromatic expressionism in contemporary Chinese-language cinema

Chris Berry Every colour red? Colour in the films of the Cultural Revolution model stage works

Jie Li Discoloured vestiges of history: Black and white in the age of colour cinema

Laikwan Pang Colour and utopia: The filmic portrayal of harvest in late Cultural Revolution narrative films

Jerome Silbergeld Ang Lee’s America, in living colour

Zhang Zhen Dream-walking in digital wasteland: Observations on the uses of black and white in Chinese independent documentary

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