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New Book on Independent Chinese Documentary

Independent Chinese Documentary, a new book by

Luke Robinson, is the first monograph published on the subject of independent documentary practice in China. Robinson is a lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of Nottingham, UK.

Description found on the website of publisher Palgrave Macmillan:

In the past 20 years, China has witnessed the flowering of an independent documentary cinema characterized by a particular vérité aesthetic. Independent Chinese Documentary traces the roots of this style back to the 1980s, and the gradual abandonment of studio-based filmmaking, dominant during the Maoist era, for shooting live and on location. Known in Chinese as xianchang – or being ‘on the scene’ – this documentary practice is distinguished by its embrace of the contingent. Through a series of synoptic case studies, this book considers the different ways in which contingency manifests in independent Chinese documentary; the practical and aesthetic challenges its mediation presents for individual film directors; and the reasons for the quality’s significance, and enduring appeal, in the context of China’s ongoing transition from socialism to capitalism.

‘Luke Robinson’s Independent Chinese Documentary is the first monograph in English on this crucial cultural movement. Robinson sustains a beautifully clear argument for spontaneity and contingency as the key elements that make independent documentary the cultural response to China’s shift from socialist planning to citizen initiatives. Rigorously researched, it covers the entire twenty years of independent Chinese documentary in sophisticated yet lucid detail.’ — Chris Berry, King’s College London, UK


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