Thursday, February 26, 2015
Narrating Environmental Challenges
The Other Half
Opening Remarks by Katherine Palmer Kaup (Furman University) and Harry Kuoshu (Furman University)
Facilitator: Tami Blumenfield (Furman University)
In this feature film, Xiaofen (Zeng Xiaofei) spends all day listening to everything that's wrong with China, opening her eyes to the chaos that threatens her own life. Working as a secretary for a legal office, Xiaofen records clients detailing the sordid aspects of their lives: divorce cases, medical malpractice suits, financial corruption and old-fashioned personal revenge. Xiaofen starts to question her own relationship with her boyfriend (Deng Gang), fresh out of prison and looking to get into trouble again with his gambling habit. While Xiaofen deals with the overwhelming social malaise surrounding her, rumors spread of a disaster at the local chemical plant, threatening to poison the entire city. This brutally frank portrait of the social and environmental problems plaguing contemporary China by indie director Ying Liang has been called "a vivid angle into ordinary life in China" (David Bordwell, Film Art: An Introduction).
Opening Night Reception Following Screening
Friday, February 27, 2015
Resource Transitions: Food, Energy and Livelihoods
Waking the Green Tiger
9 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
(Gary Marcuse, 2011, 78 min.), with commentary by Darrin Magee (Hobart and William Smith)
Facilitator: Wes Dripps (Furman University)
An environmental movement takes root when a new environmental law is passed, and for the first time in China's history, ordinary citizens have the democratic right to speak out and take part in government decisions. Activists test this new freedom and save a river. The movement they trigger has the potential to transform China. The film, seen through the eyes of activists, farmers and journalists, follows an extraordinary campaign to stop a huge dam project on the Upper Yangtze River in southwestern China. It features astonishing archival footage never seen outside China, and includes interviews with government insiders and witnesses, who recall the history of Chairman Mao's campaigns to conquer nature in the name of progress.
Beijing Besieged by Waste
11:30 a.m.-1:20 p.m.
(Wang Juliang, 2011, 72 min.) with commentary by Ralph Litzinger (Duke University) and Jenny Chio (Emory University)
Burgiss Theatre, (dessert and drinks to be provided)
Faciliator: Min-Ken Liao (Furman University)
With a population of around 20 million and growing, Beijing's residents produce unfathomable amounts of waste every day. Between 2008 and 2010, photographer and filmmaker Wang Jiuliang traveled to hundreds of legal and illegal landfills around the capital city to document the less considered side of China's economic ascent. He shows the mounting piles of garbage accumulating in the shadow of China's sparkling skyscrapers and high speed trains, and the scavengers, mostly migrant workers, who struggle to support themselves with this bleakest of occupations: garbage-picking. Wang includes observational visits with these scavengers who have made their homes and livings from these garbage heaps, wearing discarded clothing and bringing livestock to consume organic waste. The film illustrates the mentality and life cycle of consumption that accompanies China's rise, juxtaposing degraded farmlands and rivers with rapid urbanization in the nearby city.
1:45 p.m.-2:45 p.m.
Coffee with Filmmakers
Trone Student Center, Barnes & Noble Café
Open to public.
Food and Sustainability in China: Documentary Shorts (Works in Progress)
3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
(Fuji Lozada, Jeff Mittelstadt, Tom DeMarzo, Antonia Giles, Xiaoyun Liu, John-Michael Murphy, Lucy Sexton, and Liz Stevens, 2014), with commentary by Fuji Lozada (Davidson College), Antonia Giles (Davidson College), and Yancey Fouché (Furman University)
Facilitator: Dennis Haney (Furman University)
In the summer of 2014 a group of Davidson College students led by Fuji Lozada and Jeff Mittelstadt went to Shanghai to explore street vendors, urban gardens, eco-farms, fish farms and other aspects of the food experience. Supported by the AsiaNetwork / Freeman Student Faculty Fellows Program, the team observed how culture, economic growth, health and food safety issues shape people's experiences with food systems. Documentary shorts produced by the team are currently being edited and will be screened as works-in-progress at the festival, then discussed at the workshop. This trailer introduces the team and offers a sample of their experiences on a food and sustainability journey.
农家乐Peasant Family Happiness
7 p.m.-8:45 p.m.
(Jenny Chio, 2013, 70 min.), with commentary by Jenny Chio (Emory University) and Emily T. Yeh (University of Colorado-Boulder)
Facilitator: Kate Kaup (Furman University)
Tourism in China today signifies many things. To the Chinese government, tourism is a win-win opportunity to promote rural development and modernization and to encourage urban residents to flex their disposable incomes through domestic travel. To tourists it is the epitome of middle-class leisure, proof that the country has moved beyond the hardships of the past and toward a prosperous future. And to those who live in the sites that are visited, tourism is a means to an end, a chance to earn a living by turning one's home into a destination. 农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness depicts the everyday experience of "doing tourism" in two rural ethnic tourism villages in contemporary China: Ping'an in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Upper Jidao in Guizhou province. In these villages, residents negotiate between the day-to-day consequences of tourist arrivals and idealized projections of who they are. Questions of "authenticity" are rendered secondary to, yet not entirely subsumed by, market imperatives. Culture and identity remain important for sustaining community, but in ways that reveal just how much labor goes into creating leisure experiences.
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Filmmaker Showcase: Native Media and Rituals (Southwest China)
9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
(Tami Blumenfield, 2014, 12 min.), with commentary by Tami Blumenfield (Furman University), Onci Archei (Moso Folk Museum), and Ruheng Duoji (Moso Folk Museum)
Furman Hall 214 (McEachern)
Archei Ma returns to her Yunnan village home from her freshman year at a university in Hunan Province. Along with her younger sister, she gives filmmaker-anthropologist Tami Blumenfield a tour of her family's expanding footprint in the village and discusses how the village has changed in the years she has been away at school. In addition to showing the new construction and the formation of separate households out of the large matrilineal household in which the girls still live, the film touches on changing relationships through scenes of a nuclear family visit to Lugu Lake. The filmmaker is a full participant in the dialogue and appears both on and off screen, offering a close view of the deep relationships built through long-term ethnographic research.
Shielding the Mountains
9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
(Emily T. Yeh and Kunga Lama, 2010, 20 min.), with commentary by Emily T. Yeh (University of Colorado-Boulder)
Furman Hall 214 (McEachern)
Shielding the Mountains addresses poignant questions: Why have Tibetans become environmentalists? How do Tibetan conceptions of nature differ from Western ones? What is the relationship between culture and nature? The film explores these questions through a narrative that features Rinchen Samdrup, the leader of a Tibetan community environmental association in a remote area of Chamdo in the eastern Tibet Autonomous Region, and Tashi Dorje, a leading Tibetan environmentalist in China who first became interested in conservation after the death of a good friend at the hands of Tibetan antelope poachers. Viewers learn about the formation of coalitions of Chinese and Tibetan environmentalists that make Rinchen's work possible, as well as about the religious, cultural, and personal motivations for Tibetan environmentalism, and its basis in a particular understanding of the landscape, of what "nature" is, and why it should be protected.
Environmental Protection Values in Daba Rituals
10:45 a.m.-11:45 a.m.
(Onci Archei and Ruheng Duoji, 2014), with commentary by Onci Archei (Moso Folk Museum), Ruheng Duoji (Moso Folk Museum), and Tami Blumenfield (Furman University)
Furman Hall 214 (McEachern)
Na ritual specialists of mountainous southwest China (Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces) chant incantations to protect families and communities who seek their services. They do so by beseeching the ancestors and the spirits who dwell in the mountains, trees, and waterways to behave kindly and benevolently. This film demonstrates the environmental consciousness that daba ritual specialists convey through their rituals, depicting the ceremonies alongside sweeping views of the biodiverse alpine ecosystem in which Na people live. Interviews with Na individuals also provide perspectives on environmental consciousness.
Chinese Environmental Film Workshop
12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Furman Hall 214
Workshop Facilitators: Tami Blumenfield (Furman University) and Jenny Chio (Emory University)
During the afternoon workshop session, invited experts and filmmakers will provide critical commentary about how environmental topics are portrayed in films screened at the festival. Speakers will analyze and compare narrative and representational strategies used to depict environmental issues.