The essay was inspired by locating differences between documentary techniques and state television strategies while attending a conference in the summer of 2014 when Chinese documentarian Wu Wenguang joined a group of film scholars at the "The Tangled Dynamics of Independent Filmmaking in Contemporary China: Wu Wenguang 吴文光 as Artist in Residence at UC San Diego" conference from June 16-22.
I was grateful to attend and participate in the weeklong event alongside excellent scholars and organizers Paul Pickowicz and Yingjin Zhang. Each day we watched hours of documentary footage, including Li Ning’s Tape and Wu Wenguang’s films and more, and in the afternoon we discussed ideas, theories, and questions with Wu Wenguang who responded graciously and kept the ideas rolling. The essay is an excerpt of a longer piece written in response to the numerous films we watched and the conversations inspired by Wu Wenguang’s oeuvre.
An article on the pioneering documentary filmmaking work of Wu Wenguang can be located here. And below is a brief video clip available online: