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Online Project on Chinese Underground Cinema and Piracy

We were pleased to discover this wonderful online project created by Dan Carrington, a student at the University of Amsterdam, as part of a class blog project titled “Curating the Moving Image.” Carrington’s project, titled “Chinese Underground Cinema and Piracy: ‘Images that Cannot be Banned,'” is an online resource intended to expand interest and discussion about Chinese underground cinema. From the introduction:

“Images that Cannot be Banned” will offer a program of both fictional and documentary feature films as a way of introducing and exploring an interest in Chinese underground cinema. Through contextualisation, the primary intention of the selection is not to produce a ‘canonical’ list, but rather, to construct a snapshot of underground and independent filmmaking by tracing a web of links and commonalities inherent within emerging trends in Chinese filmmaking over the past decade.

What I like about this statement is the desire to resist producing a canon or list of key films. While there are several films that would be worthy of such a distinction, the Chinese underground cinema movement is a relatively new phenomenon still in the process of maturing and defining its historical legacy. It should be acknowledged that dGenerate took a significant step in commemorating the achievements of the movement with our poll of the greatest Chinese films of the 2000s, in which numerous digital independent productions were cited. But at the same time, there is such a wealth of creative activity being generated by the Chinese underground scene, that singling out specific films risks misrepresenting the collective nature of the movement, as a response to a larger and multifaceted sense of crisis underlying the radical social development of China in the post-Reform era.

It’s encouraging to see that a number of articles found on the dGenerate site are linked by Carrington as key resources for learning about Chinese underground cinema, as well as our short documentary Digital Underground in the People’s Republic, which, we hope, gives an impression of how much this aesthetic movement is the result of a collective effort involving not just directors, but producers, programmers and audiences.


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