In the early 2000s, digital cameras appeared in China, thereby allowing filmmakers to shoot films alone outside state-funded studios. While some of these films were selected and awarded at international film festivals, their directors gradually built a professional network through which they could obtain funding outside China for their next projects. At the same time, they also began to work with producers, technical experts, distributors, and international sellers who were mainly based in Europe and in the United States. In this sense, their films, although presented as Chinese by international critics, were in fact, funded, produced, edited, and distributed by teams composed of professional from various nationalities.
This communication aims at analyzing this evolution from individual filmmaking to a collaborative and international mode of production and distribution. Based on the study of two feature length documentary films made by Chinese directors – A Young Patriot (Du Haibin, 2015) and Bitter Money (Wang Bing, 2016), I will seek to understand how this evolution has changed the work of both filmmakers.
Flora Lichaa is a French researcher on Chinese cinema. Her PhD dissertation entitled “Documentary in China (1905-2017): Between Artistic Autonomy and Political Concerns” received a thesis prize from the French Association of Chinese Studies. She is currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie post-doctoral fellow at the ULB Centre for East Asian Studies in Brussels. Her current research project focuses on art film production in contemporary China. She was the Director of the Shadows Chinese Independent Film Festival in Paris from 2009 to 2015, and has curated numerous screenings and lectures related to Chinese cinema in academic and cultural institutions.