Blowup Beijing: The City as a Twilight Zone

Paola Voci

in The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9789888028528
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207202 | DOI:
Blowup                             Beijing: The City as a Twilight Zone

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This chapter examines the Beijing of the New Documentary Movement. Its title reflects two main traits of Beijing documentaries: their tendency to blow up or highlight the city's marginal inhabitants while also emphasizing their often barely visible locations. With allusions to Michelangelo Antonioni and the eponymous television series of the 1960s, the discussion examines an arguably central feature of Chinese documentaries: their tendency to highlight the barely visible locations of Beijing's marginal inhabitants. By focusing on Swing in Beijing (1999), Night Scene (2004), and Paper Airplane (2001), it analyzes the relationship between performance and dissent and the development of contested realism as the visual mode for the unfitting. Unlike the conventional images of Beijing, these films make accessible an unofficial, unconventional, and unlikely Beijing.

Keywords: Beijing documentary; Chinese documentary; marginal inhabitants; Swing in Beijing; Night Scene

Chapter.  7047 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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