The Forbidden City

27 JUNE - 2 JULY 2007





CELEBRATING 20 YEARS 1987 - 2007

You are here: China Day


12 Documentaries representing CHINA TODAY – ANCIENT & MODERN

Cultural Diversity in China

Modern China is not only the most populous nation in the world, but also one of the most culturally diverse. The government of the People's Republic officially recognizes 56 ethnic groups, though there are estimated to be a further 10 groups that are not officially recognized. Meanwhile the government of Taiwan recognizes 24 aboriginal groups, though for the People's Republic, they constitute a single ethnic group.

The majority ethnic group, the Han represent 92% of the total population. But as the total population is currently 1.32 billion, the remaining 55 groups account for over 100 million people, a population larger than any European country. The Han themselves are also culturally very diverse, as there is a great deal of regional cultural variation as well as many cultural differences that arise as a result of different degrees of modernization.

Documentary Film-making in China

There is also a remarkable amount of documentary-making in China that could be broadly classed as ethnographic. Most of this is associated with regional television stations, but this type of documentary is also being made by independent film-makers and academics, both in the People's Republic and Taiwan.

China Day Screenings

The 12 films offered in two different strands as part of these China Day Screenings can only represent a fragment of the cultural diversity of China. However, they include films shot in the most remote rural locations, where life retains many traditional features as well as films shot in the heart of the great cities, which lie at the cutting edge of modernity. There is also one film about people migrating from one to the other, one of the great issues of contemporary China. There is one film exclusively about children, another about students preparing to graduate, another about young people getting married. Several deal with the relationship between the generations, another important Chinese theme. One film shows local people resisting the state, another celebrates the restoration of the ultimate symbol of power in China, the Forbidden City.

The film-makers are similarly diverse, ranging from students and independents with limited resources to those who command big budgets and, in one case, an Oscar-nominated cinematographer and a production staff of literally thousands. But what they all have in common, with one exception, is that they are all Chinese. The making of images may be considered the 'art of regret', but it is an art that is of great importance in modern China and one that is practiced in a multitude of different ways.

Local Outreach

The Festival is keen to encourage local people to attend these screenings, whether or not they have an attachment to the academic world. In order to encourage this participation, a special China Day registration fee is being offered to local residents of only £5, payable on arrival. This will give access to the China Day screenings throughout the day, from 9am to 6pm.

Chinese Banquet

In the evening, there will be a Festival banquet at the Tai Pan restaurant that is open to all those participating in the Festival. Tickets cost £17 and further details of the menu can be found on the Catering page. In order to guarantee a place, it is necessary book this in advance, via the registration page, even if you intend to pay the special China Day registration fee on arrival.


CHINA SCREENINGS 1 – Cosmo Rodewald Theatre

Recording the past, regretting the present

The Bimo Records

9.00-10.45 The Bimo Records. Yang Rui
The Yi ethnic minority live in the Daliang Mountain region of Sichuan. For hundreds, even thousands of years, their priests, known as 'Bimo', have relied on memorized scriptures to communicate their people's desires to ghosts and spirits. Read more

After Passing

11.10-12.30 After Passing. Hu Tai-Li
Deeply missing her now deceased mother-in-law, through this film, the director of Passing Through My Mother-in-law's Village reports to her the changes of Liu Ts'o Village caused by the Taichung-Changhua Highway. Read more

The Art of Regret

12.40-13.40 The Art of Regret. Judith MacDougall
Photography is known in China as the "Art of Regret". In the rapidly changing city of Kunming, people are ambivalent about whether they want photography to be a medium of preservation and evidence, or of transformation and fantasy. Read more

CHINA SCREENINGS 2 – Bragg Theatre

The Next Generation


9.00 - 11.00 Kindergarten. Zhang Yiqing
Shot over 14 months, this film records the everyday lives of children at a boarding kindergarten in Wuhan, Hubei Province. It shows how they experience an education overburdened with social and historical background. Read more

The Graduates

10.15 - 11.00 The Graduates. Lei Jianjun
This film follows of typical group of students over the course of their final year at Tsinghua University, one of the most prestigious universities in China. Read more

Resisting the State

A Town in Migration

11.30 - 13.00 A Town in Migration. Guo XiZhi
Datong is a 2000-year old town on the banks of the Yangtze river. Because the government intends to reconstruct the town, the inhabitants of Herui Old Street have to migrate and their houses will be pulled down. Read more

Saturday 30 June, afternoon

CHINA SCREENINGS 1 – John Thaw Theatre

Tradition and Change in the City

Ancestral House

13.45 - 14.40 Ancestral House. Sun Zengtian, Xu Dan
This film is about the Huangs living in an old house in the Fujian Province. Over the past 200 years, they have all led a simple pastoral life, thriving on the Chinese virtue and tradition. Read more

The Forbidden City

15.00 - 16.00 The Everlasting Forbidden City. Zhou Bing
This is the last of a 12-part series about the Forbidden City of the Chinese imperial dynasties, describing the original construction of the complex, the customs of the emperors. Read more

Seeking New Lives

Going to Town

16.15 - 17.45 Going to Town. Bei Xu, Zhang Lu
Since the 1990s, most of the young farmers in China have been obliged to join the tide of migrants hoping to make a living in town. Li Zhenjing is an ordinary farmer of Qianjiang District, Chongqing. Read more

CHINA SCREENINGS 2 – Bragg Theatre

Recording the Past, Regretting the Present (cont.)

Face Value

13.45 - 14.20 Face Value. Li Xin
This film documents the weddings of three young couples in Kunming. Based on extensive prior fieldwork, the director used what calls an 'image on image' method in the actual making of the film. Read more

Tradition and change in the country

Tibetan Woman's Life

14.20 - 16.30 Tibetan Woman's Life. Puhua Dongzhi
Sgrolmamtsho is a peasant woman of 35 who lives in an impoverished agricultural community in the Tibetan province of Amdo. Read more

16.30 - 18.00 Transformation. Yang Gangcai, Yang Yi
In total, the Akha number almost 500,000 people and live on both sides of the border between the province of Yunnan and Myanmar, with smaller communities in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Read more

The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City