All posts tagged: Documentary

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Introducing Living Otherwise

Changes are in store for the Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia thanks to a generous fellowship from the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington. Not only have we moved from Beige Wind to a new site called Living Otherwise and transformed it into magazine-style repository, but we are also developing some new exciting larger-scale projects that highlight the arts and changing cultural systems of the city of Ürümchi and Northwest China more broadly. Over the next year we will be bringing you more long-form essays, such as the recently published piece “Ms. Munirä’s Wedding Gifts,” as well as interactive mapping projects and virtual exhibitions of Xinjiang arts and politics. The first of these larger scale projects is a multilinear photo essay titled “Living Otherwise: Buddhist Photography on the New Silk Road.” The project tells the story of Tian Lin, a Han settler and former monk, who has developed a meditative photo practice among Uyghur squatters in the city of Ürümchi and through this become a major figure in Xinjiang arts scene. …

The Edge of the Bazaar, A Documentary About Uyghur Rural Life

One of the emerging trends among young Uyghur film directors is a new attention to documentary filmmaking. This approach has long been a part of Uyghur cinema, but previously it was often part of a larger public relations presentation sponsored by the Chinese Culture Ministry. These new documentary short films are independently produced on limited budgets by young filmmakers who have an intimate knowledge of their subjects. Part of the new emphasis on documentaries is due to the increasing affordability of cameras, lenses, and digital editing software. Another element is the way the expanding Uyghur and Chinese Internet has made forms of international and national documentary – from Werner Herzog and Lucien Castaing-Taylor to Wu Wenguang and the New Chinese Documentary Film Movement – more accessible to film students in Xinjiang. But perhaps an even more important factor is the way students from the rural countryside are seeing more and more of the way-of-life they grew up around vanish before their eyes. It was these elements that prompted the young student filmmakers Abdukadir Upur and Dilmurat Tohti to …

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 …