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DV-Made China: Digital Subjects and Social Transformations After Independent Film. Edited by Zhang Zhen and Angela Zito. 

(University of Hawaii Press, 2015. Purchase the book.) 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.




“The Act of Remembering, the Xianchang of Recording: The Folk/Minjian Memory Project in China”. Film Quarterly 69. 1 (Fall 2015): 20–35.


“Crossing Cameras in China: Christian aesthetics and realized fictions.” In Zhang and Zito, DV-Made China: Digital Subjects and Social Transformations after Independent Film. University of Hawaii Press, 2015. Pp. 237-259. PDF


“Writing in Water, or, Evanescence, Enchantment and Ethnography in a Chinese Urban Park.” Visual Anthropology Review 30.1 (2014): 11-22. PDF


“On Aphasia: Indices of things we would rather not know.” Commissioned for “Love of Sun”, a collection of responses to artwork by young Asian-Pacific artists. Online at 2013). PDF


十字架与摄影机:基督教美学与数理影像世界中实现的虚构 “The Cross and the Camera: China: Christian aesthetics and realized fictions.”《中国独立影响》Chinese IndependentFilm》 2013.08(12:32-40). Original essay translated into Chinese, dated 2013. PDF


“Reading as watching: What we see and what we get” positions: asia critique “Twenty Years After” 20:1 (Winter 2012): 241-266. (On use of images in the journal) PDF




JP Sniadecki showed his film People’s Park (2012, 78 min) at Asia Society on August 20, 2015 as part of Cinema on the Edge

I was invited to introduce the festival, his film and hold a Q&A with him. Watch here.