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.
No better place to start than with emerging filmmaker Yang Mingming’s brilliant 2012 short, Female Directors. Yang made the film promptly after graduating from Beijing’s National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts, and it’s an impressive debut, perfectly executing a very simple concept. In a recent interview, Yang described the film as “a story about two girls and one machine,” and its plot as reflecting the internet culture in which her generation (Yang is in her late 20s) swims:
I think Weibo and the film share the same overall character–concise and forceful and capable of triggering discussion… the storyline of the film contains really strong, sudden outbursts that cause a chain reaction, much like the behavior of forwarding posts on Weibo. When the audience sees each line of dialogue, each person makes their own snap moral judgement, and that’s just like commenting on Weibo. Both show the presence of a real-time reaction to information.
The still up top shows Yang (right, with the camera) with her co-star, Guo Yue, who has gotten increased exposure since starring in breakout 2015 indie film Kaili Blues.
As for Yang — she just premiered her debut feature film, Girls Always Happy, at the world-renowned Berlinale film festival. Check back on Radii in a few days for an interview with her about her new film and her next step as a filmmaker on the global stage.
Cover image: Icarus Films
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