The protagonists of Luke Robinson's book are Chinese documentary filmmakers no longer working within film studios but shooting independently out on the streets. Their works reflect institutional changes within cinema and television, which entail not only filming on location but also aesthetic choices aimed at conveying effects of spontaneity, liveliness, and contingency. These terms are closely related with the study's central keyword, “xianchang.” As multi-layered and elusive as the concept of independent documentary itself, xianchang is “‘the scene’ or site of a film, but also the act of filming on location” (p. 5). It is at once a physical space, an authorial disposition that allows for unexpected elements to unravel before the camera, and the representational strategy that mediates such elements. Best exemplified by scenes of emotional crisis that “emphasize the reality of the subject matter in terms of its contingency,” it is “the defining element of...
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Book Review| May 01 2015
Independent Chinese Documentary: From the Studio to the Street
Independent Chinese Documentary: From the Studio to the Street. By Luke Robinson.
2013. viii, 198 pp. $95.00 (cloth).
Journal of Asian Studies (2015) 74 (2): 478–480.
Paola Iovene; Independent Chinese Documentary: From the Studio to the Street. Journal of Asian Studies 1 May 2015; 74 (2): 478–480. doi: https://doi.org/10.1017/S002191181500025X
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