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Contemporary Chinese independent cinema: urban spaces, mobility, memory

Courage, T. V. (2017) Contemporary Chinese independent cinema: urban spaces, mobility, memory. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

Since the 1990s, Chinese independent cinema has been at the forefront of documenting contemporary realities for marginalised citizens in Mainland China. This began with the New Chinese Documentary Movement and exploded in the mid-late 1990s with the rise of what is called the ‘Urban Generation’ of filmmakers who mix fiction with documentary to make sense of urban transformations at the street level. Now, with the continued expansion of more affordable and portable digital video production, independent filmmakers have moved beyond their local parameters and urban aesthetic styles to explore, represent and imagine new ways to document reality for the everyday citizen. In recent years, scholarship on Chinese independent cinema has acquired greater significance in film studies, insofar as it has devoted itself to the analysis of the historical significance and lasting influence of the New Chinese Documentary Movement and the ‘Urban Generation’. However, in the past decade, increasingly active digital video practices in China have proliferated on the independent film scene, including an increase in amateur and grassroots filmmaking which has embraced realism in multiple and innovative ways through documentary, fiction and experimental films. In this thesis, I will address the question of realism in contemporary Chinese independent cinema, which I argue, remains under-examined and both requires and warrants closer textual analysis. The cultural politics of China’s subaltern voices provides the common thread of this research which is articulated through the tropes of urban spaces, mobility and memory in this alternative filmmaking practice. These films imagine and represent realities through different and original modes of intervention that include performance, self-portraits, re-enactment and participatory filmmaking. In short, my research focuses on film productions from the past decade that challenge China’s official culture but also engage with it, placing it in relief with the ambiguity inherent in representation in film and history.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Nagib, L.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Arts and Communication Design
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:73253
Date on Title Page:2016

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