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Launch of the Chinese Independent Film Archive (CIFA) at Newcastle University

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

In late September 2023, dGenerate Films was invited to attend of the long-awaited launch of the Chinese Independent Film Archive (CIFA) which is dedicated to the preservation of and access to Chinese independent film culture. The archive is the culmination of 5 years of research work funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK. The launch event included a film series of 19 new and older works, multiple exhibitions, a day-long symposium and multiple roundtable discussions. Over 40 guests attended from over a dozen countries.

Program notes and photos below:

Launch Exhibition: China Through An Independent Lens

featuring work by Hu Jie, Wen Pulin, Zhang Zanbo

Excerpt from CIFA's launch program notes:

This launch exhibition aims to present the dimensions and spirit of Chinese independent cinema, which emerged in the late 1980s and has been marginalised in China's cultural landscape by state censorship and film commercialisation. Chinese independent cinema functions as a dynamic force that challenges the construction of concepts of art, truth, history, reality and ethics in official discourse, and explores alternative spaces, places, memories, voices and images that have been ignored or distorted in mainstream media.

The exhibition section featuring work by director Hu Jie included two seminal documentaries in the dGenerate Films Collection, Searching for Lin Zhao's Soul and The Observer. Excerpt from program notes below:

Searching for Lin Zhao's Soul is possibly one of the most widely circulated Chinese independent documentaries. It not only sparked the audience's interest in Lin Zhao and this period of history but also inspired many Chinese independent filmmakers to pick up their cameras to look for hte historical or present-day truth and dig out what has been covered by official discourse. They have made a large number of powerful films and contributed to the unique dimensions and value of Chinese independent cinema.

Launch Film Series: Chinese Independent Cinema Today

screenings of 19 films with 16 filmmakers in attendance

The series featured work by filmmakers in the dGenerate Films collection, including new work by acclaimed directors Ji Dan (When the Bough Breaks), Zhu Rikun (The Questioning), and Bo Wang (China Concerto),

Excerpt from CIFA's launch program notes:

By showcasing these exciting films, our launch film series aims to highlight that Chinese independent cinema is still an ongoing cinematic practice warranting attention and visibility. To be seen and to be discussed is probably more important than ever for these remarkable and resilient filmmakers.

Launch Symposium: The Exhibition and Circulation of Chinese Independent Films

This day long symposium featured participation from dGenerate Films president Karin Chien on a panel entitled, "Overseas Circulation of Chinese Independent Films since 1990s." Panelists included independent curator Shelly Kraicer, scholar Akiyama Tamako (Kanagawa University), filmmaker Tammy Cheung (Visible Record Limited), and scholar Luisa Prudentino (INALCO University).

Launch Poster Exhibition: Chinese Independent Film Posters by Wang Wo

Excerpt from CIFA program notes:

These posters were crafted by Wang Wo, an independent filmmaker and a graphic designer who has designed a large number of posters for independent films and film festivals in China. The exhibited posters, meticulously chosen from over 200 designs spanning the years from 2005 to 2023, are being presented to the public for the very first time.

Very special thanks to the CIFA Project Team: Sabrina Qiong Yu, Chris Berry, Luke Robinson, Lydia Dean Wu and Xiang Fan.

For more on CIFA:


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