FQ board member and contributor Chris Berry translates a conversation between the independent female filmmakers Ai Xiaoming and Zeng Jinyan. Although of different generations, Xiaoming and Zeng are both outliers in China's male-dominated film industry. The most prominent women filmmaker among the first generation of independent documentarians, Ai Xiaoming has lived under virtual house arrest since Xi Jinping's rise to power in 2012. Zeng Jinyan came to public attention in 2006, when she documented the disappearance of her husband, civil rights activist Hu Jia, in a protest blog; she later completed a PhD on the work of Ai Xiaoming while in exile in Hong Kong. Both women have recently reentered public life, Ai Xiaoming writing about her experiences of the novel coronavirus lockdown in her hometown of Wuhan and Zeng releasing a new film, Hanjiao yu eryu (Outcry and Whisper), focusing on the special pressures placed on women who dare to speak out in public in China.
Documentary Film, Gender, and Activism in China: A Conversation with Ai Xiaoming
Jinyan Zeng is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Haifa. A scholar, writer, and documentary filmmaker, Zeng specializes in culture and politics, intellectual identity, social activism, gender and sexuality, and ethnicity with particular emphasis on China. Zeng produced and co-directed Prisoners in Freedom City (2007) and Outcry and Whisper (2020), wrote the script for A Poem to Liu Xia (2015), and produced the feature documentary film We the Workers (2017).
Chris Berry is professor of Film Studies at King's College London. His publications include Postsocialist Cinema in PostMaoist China: The Cultural Revolution after the Cultural Revolution (Routledge, 2004), edited with Janet Harbord and Rachel Moore; Cinema and the National: China on Screen (Columbia University Press, 2006), with Mary Farquha; The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement: For the Public Record (Hong Kong University Press, 2010), edited with Lu Xinyu and Lisa Rofel; and Public Space Media Space (MacMillan, 2013).
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Jinyan Zeng, Chris Berry; Documentary Film, Gender, and Activism in China: A Conversation with Ai Xiaoming. Film Quarterly 1 September 2020; 74 (1): 45–50. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2020.74.1.45
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