Zola, Temple Tiger, and free speech in China

This film — beautifully shot, with a fascinating story that has global resonance — is the sort of documentary our Society should be supporting and distributing:

The Kickstarter trailer:

From Luisa Beck & On The Media:

When talking about China, we often try to fix points that help us understand the country’s seemingly strange and contradictory politics. We retell certain types of stories about China, framing the experience of Chinese people in terms Americans can easily relate to. After watching a short clip from High Tech, Low Life, I was looking forward to watching the kind of David and Goliath story that Americans so love: a story of two Chinese bloggers or “citizen journalists” who defy government censorship while reporting on issues like homelessness and corruption the government would rather keep below the radar.  I wanted to walk away from the film with an “Ah, so this is the kind of stuff the Chinese government censors” and an “Oh, and these are the tricks outspoken Chinese citizens use to circumvent it.” But Stephen Maing’s film challenged my David and Goliath framing.

In the film, the government Goliath doesn’t have the clear-cut characteristics that would have made its politics and its relationship to its citizens easier to understand. Yet, despite my inability to fit the film’s scenes into clear-cut explanations, its poetry- stunning visuals of Beijing and the Hunan Province, intimate encounters with the personal lives of two traveling bloggers- Zola and Temple Tiger kept me intrigued. 

By focusing not on China’s censorship politics but on the personal stories of these bloggers, I learned that neither Stephen nor Zola nor Temple Tiger could fully explain or predict Goliath’s motivations or strategy. Because China is in the process of reinventing itself. And that’s precisely what makes this film so fascinating….

NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.