1990. China. Directed by Wu Wenguang. Shot before and after the Tiananmen Square incident, Wu Wenguang's portrait of five artists eking out a life in the nation's capital is considered the birth of the Chinese independent documentary movement. The film's open, observational structure and handheld camera work are hallmarks of the movement today, as is its self-reflexive awareness of the documentarian's role, with a sense of intimacy and solidarity between filmmaker and subject. Courtesy of Wu Wenguang/China Independent Documentary Film Archive. In Mandarin; English subtitles. 70 min.
Since his landmark 1990 feature Bumming in Beijing, Wu Wenguang has exerted a profound and lasting influence on Chinese documentary and independent cinema. Whether through his own documentaries or his grassroots initiatives with emerging and amateur filmmakers, Wu espouses a fearless ethos that challenges the divisions between public society and the private self. In a conversation with Kevin B. Lee, Wu shares his experiences working at the vanguard and reflects on the future of the independent scene in China.