Forum and Films November 2-4, 2006

November 2

4 p.m. 
Keynote address by Ray Jiing, “Wounded Docs: The Critical Pedagogy of Documentary Filmmaking”
Institute for Advanced Study, Nolte 140

8 p.m. 
Stone Dream
by Hu Tai-li
79 min, 2004, Mandarin and Taiwanese dialect w/English subtitles
Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Avenue
Followed by Q&A with filmmaker Hu Tai-li

This film touches the sensitive issue of national and ethnic identity in Taiwan. In the first Taiwanese observational documentary, "Liu Pi-Chia," made by director Chen Yao-Chi in 1965, the main character Liu Pi-Chia was press-ganged into the army in China and came over to Taiwan with President Chiang Kai-Shek. After several decades, the director Hu Tai-Li unexpectedly met Liu in a village on the banks of the Mukua River. This new immigrant village consists of mainland veterans whose wives are from different ethnic groups, mostly aborigines. Stones, the most important symbols of this film, link Liu Pi-Chia's generation, who worked hard on the stony riverbed to reclaim land, and the new generation of Liu Pi-Chia's son, whose interest is collecting rose stones for artistic and economic purposes. Liu Pi-Chia and his family are like rose stones, which are black and unattractive on the outside, but cut open or polished, reveal wonderful scenes. This film is accompanied by classical Chinese lute music.

November 3

10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Panel on Chinese Documentary: Its Histories and Forms 
140 Nolte Center

  • Ray Jiing "The Historiography of Film Preservation and Documentary Film: An Archivist's Perspective"
  • Paula Rabinowitz, “Epidemics of Collapse:  Documentary and the Transnational Post-Industrial Sublime”
  • Weihong Bao, “Closing in: The Man with the Pocketed Camera, or An-Other Chinese Documentary”
  • Qi Wang, "Alternative Archive--Historical Reflections and New
    Developments in Contemporary Independent Chinese Documentaries"
  • Leo Chen, moderator

3:35-5:30 p.m.
Tales of the Night Fairies by Shohini Ghosh
74 min, 2002, Bengali w/English subtitles
155 Nicholson Hall
Post-screening Q&A with filmmaker Shohini Ghosh, moderated by Jigna Desai

Five sex workers and the filmmaker embark on a journey of storytelling. The film explores the power of collective organizing and resistance while reflecting upon contemporary debates around sex work. The simultaneously expansive and labyrinthine city of Calcutta forms the backdrop for the personal and musical journeys of storytelling. The film portrays the struggles and aspirations of thousands of sex workers who constitute the DMSC (Durbar Mahila Samanyay Committee or the Durbar Women's Collaborative Committee), an initiative that emerged from the Shonagachi HIV/AIDS Intervention Project.  A collective of men, women and transgendered sex workers, DMSC demands decriminalization of adult sex work and the right to form a trade union.

7:30 p.m. 
The Men in the Tree by Lalit Vachani
98 min, 2002, Hindi/English/Marathi/Sanskrit w/ English subtitles
155 Nicholson Hall
Post-screening Q&A with filmmaker Lalit Vachani, moderated by Simona Sawhney

This documentary is a follow-up to Vachini's 1993 film, The Boy in the Branch, about the indoctrination of young Hindu boys by a branch of the RSS, the foremost Hindu fundamentalist organization in India. In early 1993, Lalit Vachani and the Wide Eye Film team completed a documentary film, The Boy in the Branch, for Channel 4 Television, U.K. Set at the headquarters of the RSS in Vachani’s 1993 film, The Boy in the Branch, explored the indoctrination of four young Hindu boys in a branch of the RSS, one of the foremost Hindu nationalist organizations in India. On December 6, 1992 (as the film was nearing completion) members of the RSS and its affiliates destroyed the Babri mosque at Ayodhya. Where were the four boys when the mosque was razed to the ground? What did they think about the deaths of at least 1500 people (mostly Muslim) in the riots that followed the demolition? What happened to them between 1992 and 2000, as the RSS and Hindu nationalism had moved from the margins to the center of Indian politics? Vachani’s new film, The Men in the Tree, returns to the subjects of his previous film, eight years later, to document the setbacks and chilling triumphs of Hindu nationalism. The film raises crucial questions about Hindu fundamentalism, "long-distance nationalism," and international funding sources for the Hindu Right, and the complex intersections of religion, culture, and ideology.

November 4

9:30-11:30 a.m. 
Panel on Bordercrossings: Politics and Aesthetics in Asian Documentary 
140 Nolte Center

  • Shohini Ghosh, “Producing Visible and Invisible Evidence: Sexual Rights and the Documentary”
  • Markus Nornes “Stepping from the National into the Local—Then Back Again”
  • Samantha Goodner, “Working Conditions: Emergent Documentary Filmmaking in Yunnan Province”
  • Christine Marran, moderator

1:00-2:20 p.m.
Glacier by Zhaxi Nima
31 min, 2005, Tibetan w/English subtitles
155 Nicholson Hall
Post-Screening Q&A with the filmmaker Zhaxi Nima

“Glacier is the third documentary film to emerge from the Participatory Video Education project, a fruitful result of Tibetan villagers’ own film projects documenting their culture and life with the cooperation of the Baima Mountain Research Institute under the support of Yunnan Institute of Social Science. The filmmaker and photographer is Zhaxi Nima, a poet from the village of Ming Yong, a small village with a population of 50 households and 280 people, located under the foot of Kawagebo mountain, the holiest mountain for Yunnan Tibetans. Ming Yong became famous after the tragic 1991 avalanche that killed an entire team of 17 mountain climbers, mostly Japanese and Chinese; this climb was the first time the mountain was opened for climbing by the Chinese government, an action opposed by the Tibetan people. The incident reconfirmed the Tibetan belief of cosmological justice and the importance of ecological balance manifested by the anger of the holy mountain.  But since the much-publicized tragic event, tourism of the Ming Yong glacier has been developing rapidly, ominously paralleling the equally if not faster receding and melting of the glacier within Kawagebo mountain. “Glacier” documents the intriguing phenomenon and villagers’ reaction towards the impacts, both cultural and economical, from outside the villages of Shangri-la district. Contextualized within the threat of ever accelerating global warming effects, the plight of “the tears of Kawagebo” (a poem by another filmmaker in the project, Tshe Ring Sgrol Ma) and the disappearing realities of Shangri-la, “Glacier” not only gradually provikes shocking awakenings but also gently reminds us of the far reaching confluences and the irrevocable destruction we may only just begin to realize.

2:30-5:00 p.m.
Yunnan Films including Jade Green Station by the poet Yu Jian, shot and edited with the help of He Yuan and Yang Kun. Chinese w/ English subtitles
155 Nicholson Hall 

Set in a small town in Southeastern Yunnan where a railway had brought a few decades of commercial bustle and a sense of cosmopolitanism, only to be lost to the wider forces of history. In 1910, the French commissioned the Chinese to build a rail connection between Yunnan province and French Indochina. Soon the sleepy village of Bise (Jade) became a lively stopover. The film observes with great subtlety the daily life along the railroad tracks. Local elders recall the glory days of the town, including memories (and rumors) of the foreigners who had formerly lived there or passed through. Others describe life under Mao-era collectivization, or disputes regarding marriage customs in changing times. A film about history, decay, storytelling and remembering. Directed by the poet Yu Jian, the film's shooting and editing were also extensively assisted by He Yuan and Yang Kun, graduates of the East Asia Institute of Visual Anthropology in Yunnan, and it is indeed a unique blend of ethnography and visual poetry.

7:30 p.m.
Into the Picture Scroll—The Tale of Yamanaka Tokiwa by Sumiko Haneda
100 min, Japanese w/English subtitles, 2004, 35mm
Oak Street Cinema, 309 Oak Street SE
Post-screening Q&A with the filmmaker and scholar Livia Monnet

The film revolves around the picture scroll "Yamanaka Tokiwa," which is said to be the work of the painter Iwasa Matabei, who lived between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The theme of the picture scroll is the tale of Ushiwaka-maru and his mother, Lady Tokiwa, which was a popular joruri puppet theater drama in early modern times. By introducing Matabei's background, light is shed on his state of mind as he painted the picture scroll. The rhythm of the joruri musical accompaniment and the editing is exquisite.