2018-06-02 16:56:39[UPDATES]

DOCUMENTARY

 

Screening List:

MRS.FANG

EX LIBRIS: NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

SENNAN ASBESTOS DISASTER

12 DAYS

JANE

FACES PLACES

BLUE NOTE RECORDS: BEYOND THE NOTES

MARIA BY CALLAS

STAMMERING BALLAD

HAVANA DIVAS

IN PRAISE OF NOTHING

SALESMAN

FILMWORKER

JÖRG SCHMIDT-REITWEIN: WAYS OF SEEING

TOP KNOT DETECTIVE

LIFE IS FRUITY

I AM ANOTHER YOU

A LITTLE WISDOM

EX-SHAMAN

ALPHAGO

CHASING CORAL (4K) 

METAMORPHOSIS (4K) 

 

 

  Film Introduction:

 

Mrs. Fang

 

Directed by: WANG Bing

Country/ Region: France/ China/ Germany

 

The film captured the last ten days of the life of an ordinary Chinese woman, Fang Xiuying, who died of Alzheimer's afterwards. In the camera of the director WANG Bing, Fang Xiuying is no longer able to speak, lying on the bed in a rural area of Zhejiang province. However, her eyes are always wide open, showing certain vitality. Her frail, sluggish face and body is the main part of the film. Besides that, the director also recorded the behaviors of her relatives and friends during this period. They stand or sit around Fang Xiuying, massaging her body, greeting her and asking her loudly: “Do you still know me?” After a while, a reply breaks the silence: “(Fang Xiuying) is like a boat drifting on the river, now slowly sinking.” There is no pain from parting forever, but the helplessness of knowing the death will eventually come.

MRS. FANG is a “prose depicting the solemnity of death in a calm and light manner.” According to out former understanding, death may be just an instant, but in this documentary, death seems to be rendered a process, which allows one to stare at, while wait. WANG Bing intends to let the audience experience life at its utmost through a true death, and restore their respect for the nature of life in human genes.

The film won the Golden Leopard Award at the Locarno International Film Festival last year, as the first documentary to grasp the highest honor in the history of the festival.

 

Ex Libris: New York Public Library

 

Directed by: Frederick WISEMAN

Country/ Region: USA

 

In his new work, the famous documentary master Frederick WISEMAN has explored each and every brick of the New York Public Library, from which one can feel the breath of the New York City citizens, as well as the city. The film records the events taking place in the space: borrowing inquiries, public services, lectures and workshops on public issues, social activities designed to help the poor and the disabled, and free trainings for the widespread use of computers for the poor and children. In this grand yet simple building, numerous open-minded people thirst for knowledge come and go, regardless of profession or class. You can even see the tourists taking selfies there. In this landmark of high cultural concentration, the director outlines the cultural development of contemporary America, as well as the full scene of its politics, economy and humanity, leading people to endless reflection. It is also enlightening to every Chinese audience in the context of public cultural construction.

The film entered the main competition of the 74th Venice Film Festival and won the title of Best Non-Fiction Film at the 52nd National Society of Film Critics Awards.

 

Sennan Asbestos Disaster

 

Directed by: Kazuo HARA

Country/ Region: Japan

 

The film is a new work by the famous Japanese director Kazuo HARA after more than two decades. It is a complete record of the confrontation between the weak public and the powerful authority in Sennan, Osaka spanning for eight years. In the late Meiji period, the asbestos industry was flourishing there. With its excellent performance, asbestos was widely used in building materials and industrial production. However, asbestos is very harmful to human bodies. The inhalation may cause severe illness such as lung cancer.

At that time, given the economic benefits brought by asbestos, the local government did not tell its people the truth, resulting in the death of a large number of workers. Some of the indignant workers, their families and enthusiasts worked together to take the government to court, asking the government to confess and pay compensation. The difficulty is beyond the imagination of many people. Many patients had never seen the victory, passing away in desperation and unwillingness one after another...

 

12 Days

 

Directed by: Raymond DEPARDON

Country/ Region: France

 

Not all directors are good photographers, but most of the directors who can take good photos will not disappoint the audience. Raymond DEPARDON, who produced this documentary, is both a great photographer and a well-known documentary filmmaker. Either photography or documentary, his work is always embodied with his concern and reflection on social issues.

This time, his new work 12 DAYS puts some of the patients in a mental hospital in Lyon, France in spotlight, showing their true experiences in 12 days. The reason why “12 days” is highlighted here is because of French’s newly adopted Psychotherapy Act in 2013. By the Act, anyone admitted into the hospital without their consent must be seen by a judge within 12 days. That judge must decide whether these psychiatric hospital patients can be allowed back into society. The film consists of over ten trials, interspersed with shots of the mental institution and patients. The camera listens quietly, allowing those vulnerable souls to have a chance to tell their own stories. Even after 12 days, everything may return to silence again. 

 

Jane

 

Directed by: Brett MORGEN

Country/ Region: USA

 

The protagonist of the film is Jane GOODALL, a zoologist with high reputation across the world. She went to Africa's virgin forest in her twenties and spent thirty eight years there in the wild to observe chimpanzees. Afterwards, she regularly travels around the world, calling on people to protect wildlife and the globe.

The director Brett MORGEN is particularly good at character themes. She selected materials from the unpublished footages of over 100 hours recording Jane GOODALL’s field trips and interviews, and then made edition. From the first-person perspective, she tells the story about Jane studying chimpanzees in Africa in her young age. Along with the fascinating soundtrack by Philip GLASS, the audience get to know how a woman changed the world with passion, dedication and perseverance in the era when field research was still dominated by men. The film also further tightens the relationship between man and nature by intertwining the fate of humans with that of animals.

 

  FACES PLACES

 

 

Directed by: Agnès Varda/Jean René

Country/ Region: France

 

FACES PLACES has got involved in the social and people's life, and tapped the spiritual world of ordinary people, impressing numerous audiences. This documentary, which is also combined with fiction and arbitrary posing, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year and won unanimous acclaim. It is regarded as the hit documentary in 2017, winning multiple awards such as the 70th Cannes Film Festival Golden Eye Award for documentary, the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival Documentary People’s Choice Award, the Best Non-Fiction Film (Documentary) of 83rd New York Film Critics Circle Awards, the Best Documentary/Non-Fiction Film of the 43rd Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, the Best Documentary of the 23rd Lumières Award. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 90th Academy Awards, and included in the 2017 Best Movie by New York Times.
 
 
 
BLUE NOTE RECORDS: BEYOND THE NOTES
 
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Directed by: Sophie HUBER
Country/ region: USA
 
As long as you are a jazz lover, you won’t be unfamiliar with “Blue Note Records” - the American jazz record label established in 1939, one of the most legendary record companies in the history of western modern music. Jazz musicians such as Miles DAVIS, Thelonious MONK, John COLTRANE, and Bud POWELL all gained success and fame in Blue Note Records. The company owns a prestigious status in the history of jazz, with high reputation even in China.
 
Therefore, to watch BLUE NOTE RECORDS: BEYOND THE NOTES will definitely be a pilgrimage for jazz fans. It explores the stories behind the Blue Note Records: how it encourages musicians to stay innovative and initiative. Some of the rare files and videos that are unknown to the public will also be made public in the film. The film reviews the careers of jazz masters and interviews many musicians, including the well-known jazz singer Norah JONES, and an array of contemporary jazz artists such as Lou DONALDSON, Herbie HANCOCK, Wayne Shorter, among others. Listening to them recalling their stories with Blue Note Records, is absolutely a precious experience for jazz fans.
 
 
 
MARIA BY CALLAS
 
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Directed by: Tom VOLF
Country/ region: France
 
Maria CALLAS was regarded as the greatest soprano in the 20th century, having performed in hundreds of operas throughout her life. Her repertoire ranged from light coloratura soprano to the strongest dramatic part, organically combing extremely dramatic and flexible singing techniques. CALLAS was popular all over the world for her vibrant voice, almost reaching the top that no one else could match. She had played an important role in “reviving” Italian opera in the early 19th century, as well as developing and innovating the art of opera performance.
 
MARIA BY CALLAS presents CALLAS’s artistic career and life in the form of a documentary, truly depicting the road to growth and success of a contemporary female artist. For the singer who passed away in 1977, the film uses a large number of historical footages to show some important fragments of her life and career. Notably, the film is incorporated with very precious data, including some rare videos taken by the musician’s friend with Super 8 camera, as well as some of her personal letters. In addition, this film didn’t interview any connected person, but choosing to build itself up with first-hand information, in a lively and vivid way.
 
 
 
STAMMERING BALLAD
 
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Directed by: ZHANG Nan
Country/ region: Mainland China
 
In the era we live, everyone is a stranger. This is a story of a young man from Northwest China, slightly stammering and afraid of losing his “rural nature”, bringing his folk song music to big cities and finally choosing to go home. STAMMERING BALLAD is an important work presented by CNEX this year. The crew followed the Chinese folk musician Ga Song to record how he created his album during the collection in Northwestern China, and reproduce his performance in a small venue.
 
Ga Song grows up in the countryside of Jingyuan County, Baiyin, Gansu Province. His father is a fan of music and likes singing Shaanxi folk opera; his uncle is a musician who knows how to play various folk instruments. Immersed in such an environment, he has a special liking for local folk music. Each of Ga Song’s songs is a story of his childhood in his hometown, or something that happened around him. One music critic said his music is “dug out” from earth. Over the years, he has traveled many places and experienced many things, but his original intention of writing hometown stories and singing Northwestern songs has never changed. Ga Song’s life experience indicates the rapid switch between rural culture and urban culture in recent decades in China. His music is full of simplicity and humor. The profound poetic touch and balanced editing make the film an excellent music documentary.
 
 
HAVANA DIVAS
 
 
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Directed by: S. Louisa WEI
Country/ region: Hong Kong, China
 
Two old Cuban ladies, aged over 80, are performing authentic Cantonese opera on the stage, and the young people who is playing a small role is a black youth... The scene in the documentary HAVANA DIVAS is quite intriguing. However, to the older generation of Chinese in the Americas, the two Havana divas, Caridad Amaran and Georgina Wong, have long been known.
 
The relationship between Cuba and Cantonese Opera dates back to the middle and late 19th century. At the time, a large number of Cantonese people went overseas to work in Southeast Asia, Oceania, and North America, including Cuba in the Caribbean. In the 1930s and 1940s, a community of hundreds of thousands of residents was built in Cuba, supporting a number of opera companies. Caridad Amaran has pure Cuban ancestry. Her father passed away just after her birth. She has to follow her mother, drifting around the Chinatown in Havana, where she is adopted by a Chinese. Her stepfather is obsessed with Chinese opera, so he sent Caridad to learn opera when she was young. At the age of 15, she became a celebrity actress in the opera troupe, while Georgina Wong, whose father is Chinese, was also a member of the troupe.
 
A few years later, the troupe life was interrupted by Castro's 1959 revolution. Caridad Amaran made a living as a waitress. Georgina Wong went to college, and became a diplomat after graduation. The two reunited several decades later and relived their dream of Cantonese Opera. This story was discovered by the photographer Pok Chi LAU, and then widely circulated. HAVANA DIVAS takes us with these two on long-dreamed visits to China, and also presents the life of Chinese people in Cuba for more than half a century.
 
 
IN PRAISE OF NOTHING
 
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Directed by: Boris MITIC
Country/ region: Serbia/ France/ Croatia
 
IN PRAISE OF NOTHING is a very stylized piece. Rather than a documentary, it's better to call it as an artwork. The film presents a series of documentary images filmed all over the world by 62 cinematographers, with each frame comparable to a photography work! IN PRAISE OF NOTHING does not have a story line. Instead, it uses simple verse to string up each fragmentary picture, filling them with aroma of philosophy and arts.
 
The first-person perspective runs through the movie, and the narrator is the rock star Iggy POP. The godfather of punk music was a huge hit in the 1960s and 1970s, having affected many punk bands and artists in later generations with his pioneering spirit. Most interestingly, the theme of IN PRAISE OF NOTHING has nothing to do with punk rock. What Iggy POP does is reading some conceptual verses in his iconic low-pitched voice. The pleasant soundtrack in the film naturally blends in with the poetic images. If you are a culture and arts lover bold enough to touch the boundaries of art and have a special liking for experimental works, you will definitely love IN PRAISE OF NOTHING.
 
 
SALESMAN
 
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Directed by: Albert MAYSLES / David MAYSLES
Country/ region: USA
 
At first, the four salesmen are full of ambition and see the job as a great cause. But after repeated failures, they begin to doubt their life. At the end of the film, when they gather in the hotel room once again, they look at the stacked books, and then themselves in poverty, beginning to reflect on the meaning of all this.
 
 
FILMWORKER
 
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Directed by: Tony Zierra
Country/ region: USA
 
It's a rare person who would give up fame and fortune to toil in obscurity for someone else's creative vision. Yet, that's exactly what Leon Vitali did after his acclaimed performance as 'Lord Bullingdon' in Stanley Kubrick's BARRY LYNDON. Prestigious job offers poured in from film, television and stage, but the young actor turned them all down, surrendering his thriving career to take on the humble role of Kubrick's loyal right-hand man. Gone was the glamour and privilege of being a performer. Leon was plunged into a punishing mix of grueling hours and unyielding expectations. Like a medieval apprentice, he learned in meticulous detail just what it took to create and sustain timeless works of art. It would prove to be an extraordinary, intense, often arduous journey that would push Leon to his limit and beyond.
 
 
JÖRG SCHMIDT-REITWEIN: WAYS OF SEEING
 
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Directed by: Ralf Heiner Heinke
Country/ region: Germany
 
WAYS OF SEEING is a poetic portrait about a passionate explorer, artist and family man, whose enchanting images have influenced the history of German cinema. In the 1970s, Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein becomes known for the artistry and versatility of his camera works on the side of many significant directors of the so-called New German Cinema. He becomes famous, however, for his wonderful images in legendary films by Werner Herzog. Since then, he prefers to work on projects which allow him to face extreme challenges and continuously observe the world from a completely new cinematic perspective. Shortly after the Berlin Wall is built, he is incarcerated when he attempts to bring his girlfriend from East- to West-Berlin. Today he lives on a secluded farm in Lower Bavaria which has become the central hub for an exciting life full of new beginnings.
 
 
TOP KNOT DETECTIVE
 
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Directed by: Aaron McCann / Dominic Pearce
Country/ region: Australia / Japan
 
This faux documentary unravels the made-up tale of how “Deductive Reasoning Ronin” made it to Australian screens back in the late 90’s, retitled as “Top Knot Detective“, and what really happened behind the scenes of this outrageous show. The original Japanese series was legendary in its home country as being a cultural train-wreck, led by its insane writer, director and star, Takashi Takamoto. The rivalry between Takashi and co-star, Haruto Koike, is just the tip of this conspiratorial iceberg, leading back to Japanese conglomerate Sutaffu, and its CEO, Moritaro (coincidentally, Haruto’s father). Des Mangan, the narrator, introduces us to the sensation of today’s cult fan world at Oz Comicon, then takes us right back to the origins of Takashi Takamoto, his hunger for fame, desire to be admired, and the blurry lines between truth and fiction. Through interviews with cast and crew, the mystery of Takashi unravels, and we get an insight into the eccentric shows that cult film fans hold so dear.
 
 
LIFE IS FRUITY
 
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Directed by: Kenshi Fushihara
Country/ region: Japan
 
Documentary produced by Tokai TV that follows the lives of an architect and his wife. 90-year-old architect Tsubata Shuichi and his 87-year-old wife Eiko live a rambling house of Shuichi's own design in a suburban development in Kasugai, Aichi Prefecture. Tsubata was involved in city planning in the 1960s but distanced himself from the field and has spent the last fifty years cultivating a forest on land that he bought in his suburban development. Their garden is bursting with 70 types of vegetables and 50 types of fruits, and they live in harmony with nature and in gentle, cheerful acceptance of their own impending mortality. Then, he gets a new job offer.
 
 
I AM ANOTHER YOU
 
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Directed by: WANG Nanfu
Country/ region: USA
 
When Chinese filmmaker WANG Nanfu first comes to America, Florida seems like an exotic frontier full of theme parks, prehistoric swamp creatures, and sunburned denizens. As she travels wide-eyed from one city to another, she encounters Dylan, a charismatic young drifter who leaves a comfortable home and loving family for a life of intentional homelessness. Fascinated by his choice and rejection of society's rules, Nanfu follows Dylan with her camera on a journey that takes her across America and explores the meaning of freedom - and its limits. Eating garbage, dodging police, and hitching rides with strangers, Nanfu shares the streets with the young drifter. But after Dylan accepts a bag of bagels from the kindly folks and throws them away, she finds herself lack of appreciation for the generosity he’s afforded and parts company with him. The film’s second act begins two years later…
 
 
A LITTLE WISDOM
 
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Directed by: KANG Yuqi
Country/ region: South Korea
 
A LITTLE WISDOM is KANG Yuqi's intimate portrait of orphaned monks living in an isolated monastery in Lumbini, Nepal and the other side of the monastic life. In the birthplace of the Buddha, the documentary follows the daily routine of novice monk Hopakuli, and his older brother Chorten, left by their mother at Karma Samtenling Monastery. KANG lived at the monastery for a year prior to filming Hopakuli, Chorten and the other young monks. The young boys' understanding of the world outside is influenced by TV, Facebook and other kinds of stimuli despite being geographically isolated. A LITTLE WISDOM's subtle rhythms and symbols evoke Buddhist teaching while showing the contradictions between Hopakuli's austere monastic upbringing and a child's natural fascination and longing for the world beyond Lumbini.
 
 
EX-SHAMAN
 
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Directed by: Luiz Bolognesi
Country/ region: Brazil / Portuguese
 
Ever since their first contact with the Western world in 1969, the Paiter Suruí, an uncontacted indigenous tribe living in the Amazon basin, has been encroached by modernity and exposed to sweeping social changes. Smartphones, electricity, gas tanks, weapons, and social media replace traditional forms of life. Illness is a risk for a community increasingly unable to isolate itself from the modernisation brought by white people or the power of the church. Ethnocide threatens to destroy their souls. In the midst of this new world, with dogged persistence, Perpera, an ex-shaman who was forced into evangelical Christianity struggles to cure the suffering people of his village, and faces the wrath of spirits of the forest, who are upset that he has abandoned them. 
 
 
ALPHAGO
 
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Directed by: Greg Kohs
Country/ region: USA
 
With more board configurations than there are atoms in the universe, the ancient Chinese game of Go has long been considered a grand challenge for artificial intelligence. On March 9, 2016, the worlds of Go and artificial intelligence collided in South Korea for an extraordinary best-of-five-game competition, coined The Deep Mind Challenge Match. Hundreds of millions of people around the world watched as a legendary Go master took on an unproven AI challenger for the first time in history. ALPHAGO chronicles a journey from the halls of Oxford, through the backstreets of Bordeaux, past the coding terminals of Google DeepMind in London, and ultimately, to the seven-day tournament in Seoul. As the drama unfolds, more questions emerge: What can artificial intelligence reveal about a 3000-year-old game? What can it teach us about humanity? 
 
 
CHASING CORAL (4K)
 
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Directed by: Jeff Orlowski
Country/ region: USA
 
 
Coral reefs are the nursery for all life in the oceans, a remarkable ecosystem that sustains us. Yet with carbon emissions warming the oceans, a phenomenon called “coral bleaching”- a sign of mass coral death - has been accelerating around the world, and the public has no idea of the scale or implication of the catastrophe silently raging underwater. Jeff Orlowski directed CHASING ICE, which created irrefutable, visual proof of the melting ice caps. Orlowski’s next project is similarly evidentiary and powerful. CHASING CORAL taps into the collective will and wisdom of an ad man, a self-proclaimed coral nerd, top-notch camera designers, and renowned marine biologists as they invent the first timelapse camera to record bleaching events as they happen. Unfortunately, the effort is anything but simple, and the team doggedly battles technical malfunctions and the force of nature in pursuit of their golden fleece: documenting the indisputable and tragic transformation beneath the waves. 
 
 
METAMORPHOSIS (4K)
 
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Directed by: Nova Ami / Velcrow Ripper
Country/ region: Canada
 
METAMORPHOSIS is a poem for the planet which takes the pulse of our Earth and bears witness to a moment of profound change: the loss of one world, and the birth of another. The film captures the true scale of the global environmental crisis. Forest fires consume communities, species vanish, entire ecosystems collapse and so on. But this crisis is also an opportunity for transformation. In Milan, architects design vertical forests and urban towers covered with trees and bushes that reduce CO2 and produce oxygen. In Phoenix, Arizona, swimming pools are repurposed into self-sustaining gardens, lush with plants and fish. In LA, solar panels installed in underserved neighborhoods provide cleaner energy to families. Woven through these and other stories of creativity and reinvention from artists, scientists, thinkers, and young children are creative, systemic solutions for our planet, and for our communities as well. 
 
 

Guiding Unit:State Film Administration      Host Units:China Media Group Shanghai Municipal People's Government

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