Underground film fest unearths banned films

    If “”Better Luck Tomorrow”” sums up your exposure to the Chinese culture, consider expanding your horizons and attend the Chinese Underground Film Festival , which is currently playing at Price Center. The festival kicked off Oct. 8 with a reception, the first edition of films and lectures. But do not fret, for there are still many delicacies left to experience during the two remaining days of the festival.

    According to the festival’s coordinator Jim Cheng, the event is a great way to gain knowledge about contemporary China. He claims that UCSD is one of the best locations for this festival because of the strong cluster of tenured faculty who have studied films for a long time and the strong academic program for students interested in contemporary China. He says that this particular selection of films comment on sensitive areas in daily life and are not political, which is why the Chinese government lets them exist. Cheng feels that students will be “”shocked”” at the eclectic collection of real depictions of life in China for they are very different from the media’s often distorted portrayal of a communist, tyrannical regime.

    The event is unique because it is the world’s first festival that features a collection of Chinese underground films. There are essentially three types of movies that are made in China: mainstream, independent and underground. Mainstream films are made by one of China’s three major film studios and are supported and funded by the government. Independent films are made by independent firms outside of the studio system but still have restrictions and time delays placed on them. Underground films are made privately without an official shooting permit or censorship board support. They are automatically banned in China and can be confiscated at any moment, which is why they are immediately screened abroad, usually at festivals.

    This particular festival consists entirely of an assortment of independent films, which means that these releases have never been expurgated; they have never had a debut in China; and they are not distributed publicly. In fact, these screenings will most likely be your only chance to see these features.

    The Oct. 9 films include: “”Old Testament,”” “”Box,”” “”Fish and Elephant”” and “”Snake Boy,”” all of which are about some aspect of the daily life of homosexuals. On Oct. 10, there will be a showing of “”Between City and Countryside,”” about poor peasants who have to leave the countryside for the city in order to try to support their families; “”Leave Me Alone,”” about three girls who go to the city in search of jobs; “”Bumming in Beijing: The Last Dreamers,”” a documentary about five young artists who struggle to attain their dreams during the 1980s; “”A Home in the World”” featuring the same five artists from “”Bumming in Beijing”” who, after five years, are now living in China, France, Italy, the United States and Australia; “”Crying Woman,”” about the tragic life of a woman who works as a mourner at funerals; and finally “”Celestial Burial,”” a documentary that covers a Tibetan celestial burial. Panel discussions and lectures are interwoven between the films.

    On Oct. 9, the program begins at 9:30 a.m. and runs until 9 p.m. On Oct. 10, the program begins at the same time, but ends at 10:30 p.m. For a complete schedule and listing of events, visit the festival’s Web site at http://cuff.ucsd.edu.

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