Saturday, December 28, 2013

China Heavyweight (Chang, 2012): Mini-Film Review

One entry point into the boxing documentary China Heavyweight 千錘百煉 is to consider it as a presentation of atmosphere more than the presentation of a story. If narrative does not exist, but is a construction we use to make sense of reality, then this film would get my vote to be a case study. Three boxers, Qi Moxiang, Miao Yunfei, & He Zongli -- one loves boxing with selfless purity and devotion -- are not vehicles within Freytag's triangle, they are people we know for a while. Poverty. Rural teenagers. The lure of the global city. These realities are linked for 90 minutes by flawless cinematography, traditional and innovative, and ambient sounds, felt not heard. And voices.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ecocinema Article Published in 台灣文學研究學報, Dec. 2013

... I'm happy to say that my ecocinema article has been published in 台灣文學研究學報 / Journal of Taiwan Literary Studies. I've written a couple posts previously about this topic, as the article stems from my SCMS 2013 conference presentation: "Love in the Time of Industrialization -- Representations of Nature in Li Hanxiang’s The Winter (1969)"

... digital copy (open in .pdf format) here.

台灣文學研究學報 / Journal of Taiwan Literary Studies

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When the Mountains Tremble (Sigel & Yates, 1983): Mini-Film Review

The 1983 documentary When the Mountains Tremble (Sigel & Yates) features and recounts the story of Rigoberta Menchú. Menchú's story here, just as in her testimonio I Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala, is the story of Guatemala amid civil war. By some accounts, the years from 1980-1983 were the worst of the conflict, labeled genocide by the United Nations (1). Winner of a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, this doc presents multiple first-hand images and interviews of the struggle. While the editing and pace of the film may feel slow and dated today, the impact of hearing Menchú's voice over images of poverty remains a powerful combination.

1) Thanks to scholar Daniel Quirós for this information.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

La Noire de... (Sembène, 1966): Mini-Film Review

Ousmane Sembène’s black and white film Black Girl (La Noire de...), produced in 1966, traces the life of Diouana, an African woman who arrives in France to work as a house worker for a French family that she originally worked for in Senegal. This tragic, brief film eloquently represents a microcosm of the effects of colonialism while granting subjectivity to the protagonist who narrates the film. Describing her state of confinement and repression, she states at one juncture: "Back in Dakar they must be saying: 'Diouana is happy in France... She has a good life.' For me, France is the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom and my bedroom."

I currently teach this film in my Postcolonial Literature course, and it was first introduced to me in an excellent graduate course on the politics of migration in cinema. This film by Sembène also features in a comparative chapter of my forthcoming book in which I frame Bai Jingrui's 1970s Taiwan film Home Sweet Home within a wider context by placing it alongside two concurrent films that represent migration on the global stage: Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1974 film Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Angst essen Seele auf) and this 1966 film by Sembène. The film is very much worth tracking down and checking out.