New Chinese-Language Documentaries: Ethics, Subject and Place, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

New Chinese-Language Documentaries

Ethics, Subject and Place, 1st Edition

By Kuei-fen Chiu, Yingjin Zhang


252 pages | 23 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138577909
pub: 2017-10-12
Hardback: 9780415722063
pub: 2014-11-10
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pub: 2014-11-21
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Documentary filmmaking is one of the most vibrant areas of media activity in the Chinese world, with many independent filmmakers producing documentaries that deal with a range of sensitive socio-political problems, bringing to their work a strongly ethical approach. This book identifies notable similarities and crucial differences between new Chinese-language documentaries in mainland China and Taiwan. It outlines how documentary filmmaking has developed, contrasts independent documentaries with dominant official state productions, considers how independent documentary filmmakers go about their work, including the work of exhibiting their films and connecting with audiences, and discusses the content of their documentaries, showing how the filmmakers portray a wide range of subject matter regarding places and people, and how they deal with particular issues including the underprivileged, migrants and women in an ethical way. Throughout the book demonstrates how successful Chinese-language independent documentary filmmaking is, with many appearances at international film festivals and a growing number of award-winning titles.


‘This is a fascinating work in the nascent and fledgling field of Chinese-language documentary studies. The authors masterfully demonstrate the ways in which documentary filmmakers have engaged fundamental issues confronting China and Taiwan: history and politics, ethics and truth, reality and place, gender and subjectivity, migration and cosmopolitanism, exhibition and circulation.’ – Sheldon Lu, University of California at Davis, USA

‘In this pioneering, illuminating book, Chiu and Zhang compare the trajectory in the development and international reception of new documentaries from Mainland China and Taiwan, which surged suddenly in the 1990s, remaining quite active through the present. The authors also insightfully explore issues of ethics, subjectivities, and migration in the Chinese-language documentaries from both areas. It is a must-read for anyone interested in Chinese/Taiwan Studies and/or Cinema/Documentary Studies.’ – Daw-Ming Lee, Professor & Chair, Department of Filmmaking, Taipei National University of the Arts, Taiwan

New Chinese-Language Documentaries is an exciting collaboration between a leading Taiwanese and a leading mainland-born scholar that extends English-language scholarship on Chinese-language documentary by encompassing Taiwanese productions and also coming bang up to date. In this deft and thorough book, Chiu and Zhang identify themes and topics such as gender, ethics, migration and how the films are distributed and exhibited to tease out commonalities and connections without ever losing sight of local specificity and difference. The result is both lucid and profound.’Chris Berry, King’s College London, UK

Chiu and Zhang flesh out this framework with insightful details from contemporary Chinese-speaking directors and their films. - B. M. McNeal, emerita, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: New Chinese-Language Documentaries Part 1: History and Politics 2. The History ofDocumentary Filmmaking in Mainland China 3. The Vision and Voice of New Taiwan Documentary Part 2: Theory and Ethics 4. Independent Documentary and Social Theories of Space and Locality 5. Subject to Movement: Wu Wenguang and the Ethics of Self Part 3: Subject and Gender 6. New Subjectivities in Women’s Documentary Films 7. The Other as Interlocutor: ‘Voices of the People’ in Taiwan’s Documentaries Part 4: Place and Migration 8. Empowering Place: Jia Zhangke’s Post-Nostalgic Assemblage of Shanghai 9. Migration Documentaries and the Vision of Cosmopolitanism Part 5: Exhibition and Circulation 10. YIDFF and Taiwan Documentary in the International Arena 11. The Circulation of Mainland Chinese Independent Documentary

About the Authors

Kuei-fen Chiu is Distinguished Professor of Taiwan Literature and Transnational Cultural Studies at National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan

Yingjin Zhang is Professor of Comparative Literature and Film Studies at the University of California, San Diego, USA and Visiting Chair Professor of Humanities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

About the Series

Media, Culture and Social Change in Asia

The aim of this series is to publish original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars in the West and the East, on all aspects of media, culture and social change in Asia. New proposals are welcome, and should be sent in the first instance to the series editor, Stephanie Donald, at

Editorial Board:

Gregory N. Evon, University of New South Wales
Devleena Ghosh, University of Technology, Sydney
Peter Horsfield, RMIT University, Melbourne
Michael Keane, Curtin University
Tania Lewis, RMIT University, Melbourne
Vera Mackie, University of Wollongong
Kama Maclean, University of New South Wales

Laikwan Pang, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Gary Rawnsley, Aberystwyth University
Ming-yeh Rawnsley, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Jo Tacchi, Lancaster University
Adrian Vickers, University of Sydney
Jing Wang, MIT
Ying Zhu, City University of New York



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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Television / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General