Daily DripCulture

Catch a Full Slate of Chinese Documentaries Starting Tomorrow at SFMOMA


Bay Area China-watchers be aware: SFMOMA is set to kick off a two-week+ program of rarely seen documentaries on Thursday January 10. The program — Turn It On: China on Film, 2000-2017 — will run through January 27 in the museum’s Phyllis Wattis Theater and is studded with 20 films selected by artist Ai Weiwei and curator filmmaker Wang Fen.

The selection of films in Turn It On was originally assembled for the 2017 Guggenheim exhibit Art and China after 1989, which traveled to San Francisco last November after a controversial opening in New York marred by animal rights protests. (Several artworks including live animals and depictions of animal cruelty were ultimately removed from the exhibition by the Guggenheim.)

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The film program, including a number of challenging films rarely seen outside of the festival circuit, is focused on “work by China’s most daring artists and filmmakers investigating the political, social, economic, and cultural conditions of contemporary China,” according to the museum.

Highlights include Wang Jiuliang’s 2016 documentary Plastic China — an “un-narrated, stripped-down non-fiction testament to our environmental challenge” that China Film Insider‘s Jonathan Landreth called a “must-see” — and Readymade, a short biopic by artist Zhang Bingjian focusing on two prominent Mao Zedong impersonators.

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Find the full Turn It On screening program here. The full program will also be streaming on video platform Kanopy for members of participating public and university libraries.

Cover image: Still from Wang Jiuliang’s 2016 documentary Plastic China (Guggenheim Museum Twitter)

Josh Feola
Josh Feola is a US-based writer and musician, and RADII's former Culture Editor. His coverage of Chinese music and art has appeared in The Wire, Dazed, MIT Technology Review, Artsy, Bandcamp Daily and more. He's been active in China's underground music scene since 2010 via his booking platform pangbianr.com, and is a former member of Beijing bands Chui Wan, SUBS, and Vagus Nerve.
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