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The New Chinese Documentary Film MovementFor the Public Record$
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Chris Berry, Xinyu Lu, and Lisa Rofel

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9789888028528

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888028528.001.0001

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From “Public” to “Private”: Chinese Documentary and the Logic of Xianchang

From “Public” to “Private”: Chinese Documentary and the Logic of Xianchang

(p.177) 10 From “Public” to “Private”: Chinese Documentary and the Logic of Xianchang
The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement

Luke Robinson

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter examines the often-noted turn to “private” filmmaking with the arrival of the DV camera. Through analysis of key works, the discussion asks if this turn really means a retreat from the social or whether it is just another way of approaching it. It argues that this embrace of the unexpected represents a decisive break with socialist realism, which in turn has implicit political undertones; but it is a break manifested to differing degrees by documentaries of various different kinds, rather than being exclusive to any one type. Furthermore, these developments are immanent in the earlier stages of the movement, though never fully developed. The reasons for this pervasiveness lie in the cinematic practice to which all members of the New Documentary Movement share a common commitment: xianchang, or shooting live.

Keywords:   DV camera, private filmmaking, public documentary, socialist realism, New Documentary Movement, shooting live

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