This article explores the visual representation of minority (especially queer) identities in the highly stylized and experimental documentaries of independent filmmakers Shi Tou and Cui Zi'en, two of the most prominent cultural figures in the Chinese queer community. My analysis focuses on Shi's documentary 50 Minutes of Women (2005) and Cui's semi-documentary Night Scene (2003) in conjunction with discussions of Shi's paintings and Cui's queer science fiction as well as his other video works such as The Narrow Path (2003) and Shi Tou and That Nana (2005). Through a close examination of the intimately embodied vision, haptic camera, reflexive performances, as well as subjectivized editing strategies manifest in their works, I demonstrate that Shi and Cui not only present alternative perspectives on identity issues from inside the queer communities but, more significantly, they practice a boldly performative and intimately engaged mode of documentary filmmaking and in the process challenge the very distinction between documentary and fiction, truth and opinion, self and other. Their embodied approaches not only demonstrate the potential of minority discourses to actively and critically engage social reality but also represent an important direction — that of increasing reflexivity — for the continued development of documentary filmmaking in China.
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Qi Wang; Embodied Visions: Chinese Queer Experimental Documentaries by Shi Tou and Cui Zi'en. positions 1 August 2013; 21 (3): 659–681. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-2144878
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