Taming the Dragon
Every year, the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival dedicate 6 programmes to a country.
The Chinese film industry is in full ferment. Jeffrey Chan, a young Hong Kong producer who now works in Beijing, sums up the situation thus: “Before, the only thing that existed were propaganda films made by the army and the Party. Our cinema is like a ten-year-old boy: full of energy, but still wet behind the ears.”
With some thirteen thousand screens and more than five hundred feature films produced each year, the situation still remains complicated. “I realize how complex China is. Everything is simple, but the minute you try to do something different, it gets complicated.” This lines were written by Jia Zhang-ke and posted on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, on 24 November 2013, as Jia waited for his feature film, A Touch of Sin, to be given the green light for distribution in China. And they perfectly illustrate the difficulties facing the country’s filmmakers: you have to go through interminable discussions to get permission from the Party’s censorship authorities for your film to even open. All the same, the number of Chinese films entered at the Clermont-Ferrand Festival has steadily increased over the past ten years.
These six programmes look back at the last decade, revealing China‘s unofficial memory. They lead us to reflect upon the country’s current state of affairs through a body of work that is in constant dialogue, beckoning to us like the tantalizing reflection of contemporary China.