Tiananmen Square, docu (1991)


Tiananmen Square, docu (1991)
(Tiananmen guanchang)
Video series (eight episodes)
Invited to be screened at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the series had to be pulled following pressure from Beijing, but was eventually shown in various Western countries. The series was produced by the ‘Structure, Wave, Youth, Cinema Experimental Group of China’ (SWYC) (Zhongguo ‘Jiegou, Lanchao, Qingnian, Dianying’ shiyan xiaozu), an informal collective of young filmmakers founded in 1989 and devoted to the production of documentaries (see also New Documentary Movement). The SWYC includes the series director Shi Jian and Chen Jue, as well as screen-writers (Guang Yi) and cinematographers (Wang Hongyou, Zhao Baohong), among others (Meng Weidong, Wang Fei).
Based on interviews with more than a hundred people conducted between 1988 and 1991 (with a six-month gap after June 1989), the series documents various aspects of life in the streets, alleys and courtyards surrounding the Square: survivors of the imperial era, street performers, grandmothers cooking for their families, small entrepreneurs, young women in modelling schools, foreigners, and so forth. Starting with a close-up of a giant portrait of Mao being painted and hung over the Square, the series is a collage of archival footage and documentary material, weaving a permanent dialectic between the present and the past, daily life and history.
Other productions of the SWYC include Life in Beijing (Jingcheng sanji, 1988–91), Juvenile Delinquent (Gong du sheng, 1992) and the much-acclaimed I Graduated! (Wobiyele, 1992), in which eight recent graduates, who were attending China’s most prestigious universities in June 1989, are interviewed about various topics: love, sex, the prospect of employment, philosophy of life, desire to travel abroad (ambivalent) and memories of the student movement. One of the most romantic, and also the most intimate, works ever inspired by the Tiananmen Square massacre, I Graduated! movingly captures the sense of loss experienced by a whole generation.
See also: Jia Zhangke
Reynaud, B. (1996). ‘New Visions/New Chinas—Video: Art, Documentation and the Chinese Modernity in Question’. In M. Renov and E. Suderburg (eds), Resolutions: Essays on Contemporary Video Practices. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.
BÉRÉNICE REYNAUD

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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