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Monthlong “Hidden China” Series at Jacob Burns Center Starts October 4

Curated by Zhu Rikun, a major figure in China’s independent film world, this is a very special look at a group of uncompromising movies that reveal a China we might not otherwise see. Zhu, filmmaker Wang Wo, and other members of the Chinese independent film world will join us for screenings and discussion. Presented in collaboration with dGenerate Films. Full schedule after the break.

Producer Zhu Rikun and filmmaker Wang Wo, both natives of China, are the two newest international fellows to take up residence at Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) this October, coinciding with our “Hidden China” film series. Zhu Rikun is one of the best known figures in Chinese independent cinema. In 2001 he founded Fanhall Studio, a production and distribution company whose goal was to stimulate the development of independent Chinese cinema. He produced many of the hardest-hitting Chinese films in recent years, including such major works as Xu Xin’s Karamay and Li Hongqi’s Winter Vacation. Mr. Zhu was the organizer of the Beijing Independent Film Festival and the Songzhuang Documentary Film Festival, both of which helped flourish Chinese independent film. Wang Wo is a filmmaker and artist, and a teacher at the Li Xianting Film School, the first independent film school in China. Mr. Zhu and Mr. Wang will be at JBFC throughout the month of October.

While at the JBFC, Zhu Rikun will work on postproduction of a new film with Wang Wo, a close associate and designer of Zhu’s Fanhall Studio complex. Mr. Zhu is the curator of the JBFC film series “Hidden China,” a special look at a group of uncompromising movies that reveal a China we might not otherwise see. The series, which runs from Oct. 4-25, includes 17 programs with introductions and post-screening discussions with Zhu Rikun, Wang Wo, and other figures in Chinese cinema. This series includes four films by Chinese activist, artist, and filmmaker Ai Weiwei, three films by current JBFC Filmmaker-in-Residence Wang Wo, and a program on Chinese animation. What makes “Hidden China” so unique is the fact that many films in this series have never been screened in the United States and, according to a recent New York Times article <>, are just as difficult to see in China.

“This is a look behind the scenes, an uncensored and uncompromising vision of one of the most dynamic and rich cultures on earth, but one that remains largely hidden for most of us behind the high walls of language and distance and official censorship. It’s a very rare opportunity to see these unflinching films guided by our latest international Fellows: Zhu Rikun, one of the most influential producers of independent Chinese Cinema, and Wang Wo, a celebrated documentarian,” said Brian Ackerman, JBFC Programing Director. For more information on “Hidden China,” please visit the series page <> on the JBFC website.This program is made possible through The Kathryn W. Davis Fellowship for International Understanding Through Film with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Disturbing the Peace

Activist, artist, and filmmaker Ai Weiwei has long been a fearless critic of the government, adeptly harnessing the power of social media. Here he documents the obstruction of justice around the trial of human rights activist Tan Zuoren and the local police’s brazen attempt to ensure no witnesses—including Ai Weiwei himself—reach the courtroom. A riveting window into the system.

Introduction by Zhu Rikun

Free for JBFC Members! Members may pick up their free ticket/s at the box office in advance, or the night of the event, depending upon availability. Membership ticket limits apply.

Ai Weiwei. 2009. 78 m. NR. China, Mandarin with subtitles. Ai Weiwei Studio.

Thurs. Oct 4 7:30 pmw/Zhu Rikun Free for Members! $11 for nonmembers.


The latest from Xu Xin, best known for his epic Karamay. This is an extraordinarily revealing interview with an 83-year-old veteran of the Chinese Red Army, who calmly relates how he has navigated his country’s turbulent history, revealing the brutality and frequent irrationality of the giant Chinese communist machine.

Xu Xin. 2011. 113 m. NR. China, Mandarin with subtitles. Xu Xin Documentary FIlm Studio.

Fri. Oct 5 7:30 pm

Winter Vacation

Awarded the prize for Best Film at the Locarno Film Festival, this acclaimed absurdist comedy targets the nonsensical undertones of modern Chinese society with deadpan humor that’s as biting as the film’s wintry landscape.

Introduction by Zhu Rikun and Wang Wo.

Li Hongqi . 2010. 91 m. NR. China, Mandarin with subtitles. dGenerate Films.

Sat. Oct 6 7:30 pmw/Zhu Rikun and Wang Wo Tickets: $6 (members), $11 (nonmembers)

The Interceptor from My Hometown

A shocking profile of the filmmaker’s childhood friend, a man who has made a long career for himself in the Communist party. He matter-of-factly explains his work as an “interceptor”—a civil servant whose job is to prevent citizens from seeking justice. Shocking and unsettling.

Zhang Zanbo. 2011. 90 m. NR. China, Mandarin with subtitles.

Sun. Oct 7 3:00 pm

New Chinese Animation

“You probably haven’t heard about Chinese independent animation. But there are a few artists creating very strong work in this genre. Liu Jian’s Piercing I is a feature-length film, handmade and gritty. Zhang Gong,a talented artist, has also made several strong short animated films.” —Zhu Rikun

A rare and wonderful chance to see Liu Jian’s Piercing I (2010), the story of a Chinese man who’s down on his luck, in which modern Beijing is revealed as a place inhabited by a cynical, despondent youth and a frustrated working class. Also: two short animated pieces from Zhang Gong: Black Pig, White Pig (2005) and Ms. Red (2009). Not recommended for children.

Various Directors. 96 m. NR. China, Various languages with subtitles.

Mon. Oct 8 7:30 pm

Noise/Up and Down

“Wang Wo’s deceptively simple films are experimental, emotional, and opinionated. Wang shoots moments of daily life and astutely organizes the footage in surprising ways to create his deep, thoughtprovoking work.” — Zhu Rikun

Noise (2007) and Up and Down (2008) take the direct cinema approach, immersing the viewer in a non-narrative, highly sensory experience of the chaotic sounds and images of urban China. Says Wang: “It is like offering a sacrifice to the noisy era.”

Introduction by Wang Wo

Wang Wo. 70 m. NR. .

Tues. Oct 9 7:30 pmw/Wang Wo Tickets: $6 (members), $11 (nonmembers)

So Sorry

After Disturbing the Peace, Ai Weiwei turned his attention to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, in which thousands of schoolchildren died. His investigation into corruption and the poor construction of “tofu-skin” schools led to a violent confrontation with the police, affecting his work as an artist and causing a nearly fatal experience from a head injury.

Introduction by Zhu Rikun

Ai Weiwei. 2012. 55 m. NR. China, Mandarin with subtitles. Ai Weiwei Studio.

Sat. Oct 13 7:45 pmw/Zhu Rikun Tickets: $6 (members), $11 (nonmembers)


Xu Xin’s epic examination of a fire that broke out in a Xinjiang community center in 1994 is a landmark in cinema. More than 300 people– mostly children– died that day, having been told to remain in their seats to allow government officials to evacuate first.

Q&A dGenerate Films President/Founder Karin Chien with Zhu Rikun

Xu Xin. 2010. 356 m. NR. China, Mandarin with subtitles. dGenerate Films.

Sun. Oct 14 12:30 pmw/Karin Chien and Zhu Rikun Tickets: $6 (members), $11 (nonmembers)

Demolition/The Yellow Bank

Demoliton Focusing on a vast worksite in the center of Chengdu— which is emblematic of the many rapidly changing Chinese cities—this is a cinematic look at migrant labor, urban space, changing social dynamics, and the ephemeral connection between film-subject and filmmaker. • J.P. Sniadecki. 2008. 62 m. NR. China, in Mandarin/Sichuanese with subtitles.


The Yellow Bank Watching, waiting, and traversing: a poetic portrait of modern Shanghai—looming skyscrapers, tempestuous weather, murky waterways—shot during a total eclipse of the sun. • J.P. Sniadecki. 2011. 27 m. NR. China.No dialogue.

Q&A filmmaker J.P. Sniadecki

J.P. Sniadecki. 89 m. NR. China.

Tues. Oct 16 7:30 pm

According to China

This 2010 film consists of Chinese television and Internet footage of people and events from the year 2008, a year like many others. Putting it together, Wang highlights no particular news event but rather the volume of information and the spaces that exist within it for reflection, imagination, and judgment. He explains that the intention of this film is “to use lies to speak a word of truth.”

Introduction by Wang Wo

Wang Wo. 2010. 115 m. NR. China, Mandarin with subtitles.

Fri. Oct 19 7:30 pmw/Wang Wo Tickets: $6 (members), $11 (nonmembers)

Prisoner in Freedom City

Human rights activists Hu Jia and his wife, Zeng Jinyan, spent much of 2006 restricted to their Beijing apartment in a complex with the unlikely name of Freedom City. While she blogged about life under detention, he shot this startling documentary.

Hu Jia. 2008. 47 m. NR. China, Mandarin with subtitles.

Sat. Oct 20 7:45 pm

One Recluse

A riveting glimpse into the realities of a government-controlled judicial system and its impact on daily life as seen through the trial of a man accused of killing six police officers. The judicial process is filled with cover-ups and questionable decisions.

Introduction by Zhu Rikun

Ai Weiwei. 2010. 180 m. NR. China, Mandarin with subtitles. Ai Weiwei Studio.

Sun. Oct 21 2:30 pmw/Zhu Rikun Tickets: $6 (members), $11 (nonmembers)


“Wang Wo’s deceptively simple films are experimental, emotional, and opinionated. Wang shoots moments of daily life and astutely organizes the footage in surprising ways to create his deep, thoughtprovoking work.” — Zhu Rikun

Wang Wo turns his camera on the rush and transience of daily life, letting the sounds, images, and stories of his urban environment emerge. There’s no preconceived narrative. Instead it’s a highly personal, realistic 2005 vision of places and crowds captured by a silent observer.

Introduction by Wang Wo

Wang Wo. 2005. 86 m. NR. China, Mandarin with subtitles.

Mon. Oct 22 7:30 pmw/Wang Wo Tickets: $6 (members), $11 (nonmembers)

So Much Rice

The first feature film by poet/novelist Li Hongqi is the story of three people who briefly try to live and eat together in the dusty outskirts of Beijing. It lays the groundwork for Li’s signature blend of humor and melancholy.

Li Hongqi . 2005. 78 m. NR. China, Mandarin with subtitles.

Tues. Oct 23 7:30 pmw/Zhu Rikun and Wang Wo Tickets: $6 (members), $11 (nonmembers)


Fairytale presents Ai’s project for the European art festival Documenta 12, for which he invited 1000 Chinese citizens to Germany. The film tracks the whole work, bureaucratic nightmares and all, becoming a focused picture of how the Chinese government treats its people.

Introduction by Zhu Rikun

Ai Weiwei. 2008. 152 m. NR. China, English/German/Mandarin with subtitles. Ai Weiwei Studio.

Thurs. Oct 25 6:00 pmw/Zhu Rikun Tickets: $6 (members), $11 (nonmembers)

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