DV-Made China: Digital Subjects and Social Transformations after Independent Film
408pp. May 2015
DV-Made China: Digital Subjects and Social Transformations after Independent Film
Editor: Zhang Zhen; Zito, Angela;
In 1990s post-Reform China, a growing number of people armed with video cameras poured out upon the Chinese landscape to both observe and contribute to the social changes then underway. Happening upon the crucial platform of an older independent film movement, this digital turn has given us a "DV China" that includes film and media communities across different social strata and disenfranchised groups, including ethnic and religious minorities and LGBTQ communities. DV-Made China takes stock of these phenomena by surveying the social and cultural landscape of grassroots and alternative cinema practices after the digital turn around the beginning of the new century.

The volume shows how Chinese independent, amateur, and activist filmmakers energize the tension between old and new media, performance and representation, fiction and non-fiction, art and politics, China and the world. Essays by scholars in cinema and media studies, anthropology, history, Asian and Tibetan studies bring innovative interdisciplinary methodologies to critically expand upon existing scholarship on contemporary Chinese independent documentary. Their inquiries then extend to narrative feature, activist video, animation, and other digital hybrids. At every turn, the book confronts digital ironies: On the one hand, its portability facilitates forms of radically private film production and audience habits of small-screen consumption. Yet it also simultaneously links up makers and consumers, curators and censors allowing for speedier circulation, more discussion, and quicker formations of public political and aesthetic discourses. 

DV-Made China introduces new frameworks in a Chinese setting that range from aesthetics to ethical activism, from digital shooting and editing techniques to the politics of film circulation in festivals and online. Politics, the authors urge, travels along paths of aesthetic excitement, and aesthetic choices, conversely, always bear ethical consequences. The films, their makers, their audiences and their distributional pathways all harbor implications for social change that are closely intertwined with the fate of media culture in the new century of a world that both contains and is influenced by China.

60 illustrations

Critical Interventions Series
“Since the early 1990s, Chinese independent film has become one of the most significant players in Chinese film culture. This up-to-date collection illustrates well the shift from independent fiction film to independent documentary. Its importance stems from its focus on ‘digital subjects,’ that is, how digital technologies enabled Chinese filmmakers to negotiate and articulate new aesthetic sensibilities, new social subjectivities, and new cultural formations.” —Yingjin Zhang, University of California, San Diego

“DV-Made China is the ideal introduction to China’s burgeoning and protean unofficial cinematic subcultures. Ranging across everything from feature films to short internet videos, from production to consumption, this exciting anthology opens up a new page for Chinese cinema studies.” —Chris Berry, King’s College London
Editor: Zhang Zhen; Zito, Angela;
Zhang Zhen is associate professor of cinema studies and history at New York University.

Angela Zito is associate professor of anthropology and religious studies at New York University where she codirects the Center for Religion and Media.
PART ONE Ethical and Political Stakes
1. Marking the Body: The Axiographics of the Visible Hidden Camera
Abé Mark Nornes
2. The Cruelty of the Social: Xianchang, Intersubjectivity, and Interobjectivity
J. P. Sniadecki
3. Filming Power and the Powerless: Zhao Liang’s Crime and Punishment (2007) and Petition (2009)
Jie Li
4. The Spectacular Crowd: Representing the Masses in DV Documentary
Shuang Shen
5. DV-made Tibet: Domestic Videos, Elite Films, and the Work of Pema Tseden
Robert Barnett
6. Chinese Independent Cinema in the Age of “Digital Distribution”
Dan Gao

PART TWO Aesthetic and Activist Experiments
7. Chinese Digital Shadows: Hybrid Forms, Bodily Archives, and Transnational Visions
Bérénice Reynaud
8. The Recalcitrance of Reality: Performances, Subjects, and Filmmakers in 24 City and Tape
Qi Wang
9. Crossing Cameras in China: Christian Aesthetics and Realized Fictions
Angela Zito
10. DV and the Animateur Cinema in China
Paola Voci
11. “To Whom Do Our Bodies Belong?” Being Queer in Chinese DV Documentary
Luke Robinson
12. Toward a Digital Political Mimesis: Aesthetic of Affect and Activist Video
Zhang Zhen
Appendix I: Chinese and Non- Chinese Filmography/Videography
Compiled by Ting-wu Cho
Appendix II: Tibetan Filmography/Videography
Compiled by Robert Barnett