This week’s photo theme is: Director’s Seat. Last month, well-known (male) Chinese film director Ding Taisheng made a controversial statement on Sina Weibo to the effect that “women can be great producers, but rarely directors.” (That’s a paraphrase from memory — his Weibo account, which had over 140,000 followers, has since been deleted.) In response, this week we’ll take a look behind the camera at the work of a few exemplary female filmmakers in China, past and present.
Today we highlight a recent classic of Chinese independent cinema: Liu Jiayin’s 2005 debut, Oxhide (牛皮). Only 23 years old at the time she made this film, Oxhide captures the life of Liu’s working class Beijing family at a time when the city was ramping up for primetime on the international stage.
dGenerate Films, the US-based distributor of Oxhide and many other choice cuts from the Chinese indie circuit (including Female Directors), provides a synopsis:
Boldly transforming documentary into fiction, Liu Jiayin cast her parents and herself as fictionalized versions of themselves. Her father, Liu Zaiping, sells leather bags but is slowly going bankrupt. He argues with his wife, Jia Huifen, and his daughter over methods to boost business in the shop. A cloud of anxiety follows them into sleepless nights shared in the same bed. But through the thousand daily travails of city life, a genuine and deeply moving picture of Chinese familial solidarity emerges from the screen.
Here’s a clip from Oxhide, also from dGenerate:
More info here.
Cover image: Film Society Lincoln Center
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