The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement

For the Public Record


Edited by Chris Berry, Lu Xinyu and Lisa Rofel

ISBN : 978-988-8028-51-1

Film, Media, Fine Arts

September 2010

320 pages, 6″ x 9″, 42 b&w illus.

  • HK$395.00

Also available in Paperback HK$210.00

The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement is a groundbreaking project unveiling recent documentary film work that has transformed visual culture in China, and brought new immediacy along with a broader base of participation to Chinese media. As a foundational text, this volume provides a much-needed introduction to the topic of Chinese documentary film, the signature mode of contemporary Chinese visual culture. These essays examine how documentary filmmakers have opened up a unique new space of social commentary and critique in an era of rapid social changes amid globalization and marketization.

The essays cover topics ranging from cruelty in documentary to the representation of Beijing; gay, lesbian and queer documentary; sound in documentary; the exhibition context in China; authorial intervention and subjectivity; and the distinctive “on the spot” aesthetics of contemporary Chinese documentary. This volume will be critical reading for scholars in disciplines ranging from film and media studies to Chinese studies and Asian studies.

Chris Berry is Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London. Lu Xinyu is professor and director of the Broadcasting and Television Department of the Journalism School at Fudan University in Shanghai. Lisa Rofel is professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“Timely and engaging, this is the first critical volume in English on the emergence and flourishing of the new documentary movement in China in the last two decades. A border-crossing effort by Chinese and Western scholars, joined by the leading independent documentarian Wu Wenguang, the informative and provocative writings here shed new light on the complex relationships between everyday life and media, public culture and social change in contemporary China.” —Zhang Zhen, editor of The Urban Generation: Chinese Cinema and Society at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century

“Essential reading, this superb introduction to Chinese documentary is a model of how to translate, not merely a language, but an entire culture, cinema, context, and aesthetics. Its ‘public record’ constitutes a veritable call to arms for the future of digital documentation everywhere.” —B. Ruby Rich, University of California, Santa Cruz

“This volume is well worth the wait to have so definitive, comprehensive, and intelligent a collection on one of the most exciting film movements today—the New Chinese Documentary Film Movement—with writings by a ‘who’s who’ of scholars and filmmakers that cover key issues of identity, realism, spectatorship and counter-publics. Its clarity and range make it accessible across a number of fields, from cinema studies, media studies, and East Asian studies, to those interested in gender, performance, and archives. The Appendix with biographies of key documentarians makes this book a classic before its time.” —Faye Ginsburg, New York University