Documentary Review: What About China? (2022) by Trinh T. Minh-ha

The narrative of a culture, nation or ideology has been shaped by lots of media, with film getting possibly 1 of the most essential, offered its blend of quite a few other media inside itself. The outcome of these endeavors can be observed in history classes and books, displaying the extent of footage devoted to market a specific point of view on the previous, therefore shaping the present and a doable future. Several artists therefore have created been hugely important of the medium and these dangers, although ironically making use of the language of the medium to express their thoughts on these matters, which resulted in attributes and documentaries getting a criticism of the medium as a complete. One particular of the most nicely-identified examples could just be Chris Marker, whose operates make use of cultural narratives and artifacts, placing them in a new or diverse context, therefore revealing the hidden ideology behind it. Through her profession, filmmaker and writer Trinh T. Minh-Ha has followed a comparable path, connecting the aforementioned footage to develop attributes and documentaries about the hyperlink of present and previous, as nicely as such themes as gender roles or the forging one’s identity inside a foreign cultural atmosphere.

What About China? is screening at San Diego Asian Film Festival

In her new function “What About China?”, which currently won the prestigious New Vision Award at CPH:DOX, she requires on the cultural narrative of China, focusing on footage from the rural side of the nation, ranging from 1993 to 1994. As with her prior operates, she blends components of documentary and film essay, emphasizing the context of the footage she shows her viewer, although also uncovering narratives which are possibly not as apparent as it appears at 1st glance. Apart from the visual aspect, there is also an auditive element worth mentioning, which is the voices of the filmmaker herself, but also lots of other corroborators providing additional con- or subtext to the numerous photos, producing the function itself at instances appear like an art installation.

Inside the 135 minutes of operating time, there are moments of sheer beauty in “What About China?” as nicely as scenes which are pretty difficult. This challenge is not so a great deal directed at the viewer, rather than the cultural narrative as promoted by the political technique of the Chinese at the time, which is heightened by the contrast of the aforementioned visual and auditive components. The story of a family members living in the city getting forced to stop by the countryside and function alongside peasants throughout the Mao’s leadership is 1 instance of lots of. When the narrative highlights the confusion of the speaker about her grandmother’s disgust with the farmers, the idyllic depiction of farmhouses and the function in the field creates some thing of an antithesis. Offered the added political context, there are many layers to these moments, stressing the partnership of rural and urban China and its normally problematic nature, as nicely as the hyperlink of the political technique to the individuals it is supposed to lead.

In the finish, this is 1 of lots of moments producing “What About China?” a a great deal rewarding encounter for its viewer. Trinh T. Minh-ha combines numerous type of footage and voices into an essayist documentary about cultural narratives and the medium itself, which normally is pretty wonderful and other instances quite believed-provoking.



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