From “Public” to “Private”: Chinese Documentary and the Logic of <i>Xianchang</i>

Luke Robinson

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:
From                             “Public” to “Private”:                             Chinese Documentary and the Logic of Xianchang

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This chapter examines the often-noted turn to “private” filmmaking with the arrival of the DV camera. Through analysis of key works, the discussion asks if this turn really means a retreat from the social or whether it is just another way of approaching it. It argues that this embrace of the unexpected represents a decisive break with socialist realism, which in turn has implicit political undertones; but it is a break manifested to differing degrees by documentaries of various different kinds, rather than being exclusive to any one type. Furthermore, these developments are immanent in the earlier stages of the movement, though never fully developed. The reasons for this pervasiveness lie in the cinematic practice to which all members of the New Documentary Movement share a common commitment: xianchang, or shooting live.

Keywords: DV camera; private filmmaking; public documentary; socialist realism; New Documentary Movement; shooting live

Chapter.  7749 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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