All posts filed under: Film

Xu Xin’s “Karamay” and Life in the New Economy

Xu Xin’s monumental 2010 film, Karamay (above, part 1, with English subtitles), is a meditation on the relationship humans have to the failings of ideology-driven Modernist political projects in our current historical moment. Using long-takes and repetitive framing shot during visits to Xinjiang in 2007, Xu Xin draws out the long duration of trauma and feelings of injustice. With the exception of a minority of Uyghurs and Kazakhs, the majority of Mandarin speakers featured in this award-winning 356-minute film came from elsewhere. Most of the families in the film came to China’s far Northwestern province of Xinjiang in the 1960s to work in the oil fields and protect the Chinese frontier. Trading rural social networks for the future benefits of membership in the industrial proletariat, these parents placed their lives in the hands of the Party. They committed themselves to a national-communist project thousands of miles from their natal homes; they developed skills for coping with displacement; they disciplined their bodies and the bodies of their children as weapons in a war with nature. Out on …

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Wen Muye’s “Battle” and Uyghur Life in Chinese Cities

[vsw id=”12499″ source=”http://media-v7.xwei.tv/flash-player/Loader1.swf” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”] The short film Battle (with English subtitles) offers viewers a perspective of Uyghur life in major Chinese cities outside of Xinjiang. Having lived in Northwest China for extended periods of time, it was striking to see how evocative it is of life for Uyghurs outside of their homeland. Last week on a 24-hour layover in Shanghai I met five Uyghurs and one Uzbek. The first couple I met were at the base of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower bargaining for student priced tickets to the 220 yuan observation deck. The young man and his young girlfriend were from Uzbekistan and Ürümchi respectively; he was a non-matriculated student at a local Shanghai university and she lived in Shanghai with her family. Judging by the amount of jewelry and makeup she had on under her floral headscarf, she was just getting to know and impress her Uzbek suitor. They were an interesting pair; helping each other negotiate in a Chinese world. The next trio of Uyghurs I met were selling hashish …

The Silk Road of Pop: Reviewed

The film The Silk Road of Pop (2013: 53 min.) ends with a young Uyghur rapper saying that he wants the world to know that Uyghurs exist. The man, a sculpted crop of hair jutting from his chin, says “Aside from China, who knows that Uyghurs exist? Zero percent.” As a view from a train window merges into film credits while the Uyghur singer Perhet Xaliq and his wife Pezilet sing an old song of Uyghur youth “sent-down” from the city, the pathos of his plea seem to resonate with the atmosphere of the land, the tight cement block apartments, the frozen sidewalks paved with Shandong tiles. Being contemporary Uyghurs is something that young people in Xinjiang seem to think about and perform all the time. You can hear it in the air. Why doesn’t the sound they make travel back to them? This mesmerizing new documentary film by the Canadian and Swiss filmmakers Sameer Farooq and Ursula Engel pulls the viewer in and out of the dense soundscape of Northwest China. Moving between the …