China Concerto

From The dGenerate Films Collection

Directed by Bo Wang

50 minutes / Color
English; Mandarin / English subtitles
Release: 2013
Copyright: 2012

An observational essay shot in the southwestern city of Chongqing, CHINA CONCERTO probes the uses of public spectacle in contemporary China.

Born and raised in Chongqing, filmmaker Bo Wang visited his hometown at the height of now-disgraced politician Bo Xilai's campaign to revive Mao-era "red culture", promoting among other things the public singing and dancing of Communist songs.

film still

Alongside these participatory street performances, CHINA CONCERTO looks at images from the media, including Michelangelo Antonioni's Chung Kuo-China, and news media and advertising that address the capitalist present in forms reminiscent of the communist past.

The situation is explored in a narration modeled on Chris Marker's Sans Soleil, which is delivered by a woman with an ambiguous accent. Perched between an insider and outsider perspective, CHINA CONCERTO considers the persistence of totalitarian ideologies and images.

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"The remarkable collage and found footage editing, the insightful commentary on the absurdity of the power construction, and the allure of the spectacle, greatly facilitated by the female voiceover reading out a letter in undefined accented English, have earmarked Bo Wang as an exciting documentary filmmaker approaching sociopolitical subjects in contemporary China." —Ma Ran, Senses of Cinema

"Compactly and sensitively offers a Debordian analysis of spectacle and shows the complexity of China's transition into capitalism (as well as a great gunshot montage made from Chinese propaganda films that seems to be inspired by Christian Marclay)." —Tynan Kogane, Cinespect

"It is absolutely fascinating to watch CHINA CONCERTO apply the techniques of deconstruction to official state propaganda… It also offers trenchant analysis of the capitalism promoted by the state, a mutation described as "collective capitalism," in contrast to the western individualistic variety." —Joe Bendel, Libertas Film Magazine

"The film takes the viewer into Chongqing's streets to witness a selection of public spectacles, seemingly unrelated to the political climate of the red campaign, and manages, with only the slightest allusion to the politician leading the city, to take the rising temperature of the city that would soon be consumed by scandal." —Jonathan Landreth, China File

"Fascinating! A fine reflextive piece about the difficulties of holding a grip on reality while undergoing cultural upheaval. Highly recommended!" —Tom Keogh, Video Librarian

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Select Accolades

  • 2013 CPH:DOX (Copenhagen)
  • 2013 Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, Ithaca, NY
  • 2013 Documentary Fortnight, MoMA the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
  • 2012 China Independent Film Festival, Nanjing
  • 2012 Beijing Independent Film Festival, Beijing


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