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The Birth Story of dGenerate Films, Part 3

dGenerate Films head honcho Karin Chien reminisces on the how this company came to be. Read parts 1 and 2 of this three part series.

My first trip to Beijing was a startling revelation. The city seemed to me a mix of Las Vegas and Eastern European Communist aesthetics. The smog, traffic, and sprawl of Beijing were mind-boggling (and I’m an LA native). The underground, independent film community, though, was small and, as I soon found out, very inviting. A few introductions from colleagues in the States got me meetings with key influencers, including professor/producer/actor Zhang Xianmin, critic/curator/filmmaker Zhang Yaxuan, and programmer/critic Shelly Kraicer. I knew I found the beating heart of the community when I walked into an Communist Bloc-era apartment, in the middle of a Friday night, saw leading filmmaker Wang Bing chain-smoking in the corner, and sat down for a serious discussion about the politics of world cinema.

That first trip solidified for me the importance of distributing these films to an American audience. Not only could we return revenue to filmmakers, so they could keep making films, but we had an opportunity to open a window onto contemporary China. There is no easy access in the States to contemporary media made about China, from within China, by Chinese filmmakers. The opportunity and need were, and still is, clearly present.

When I returned to the States, we quickly got to work on watching films and pulling the company together, which took a good year of hard work, including a second visit to China in Fall 2008 (see Digital Underground in the People’s Republic). But to this day, I remain eternally grateful to the filmmakers, professors, programmers and critics who welcomed me with open arms on that first trip to Beijing. Without their faith in our work, and the trust of the filmmakers, we wouldn’t be granted the access that truly sets dGenerate apart.


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