From Deconstruction to Activism: The Chinese Independent Documentary and the Crowd

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6 Scopus citations


This article explores how the increasing visibility of new collectives in contemporary China has shaped independent documentaries. Countering a prevalent approach to documentary studies that emphasizes the individual and the subjective, this article suggests that how to represent collectivity has preoccupied Chinese documentary filmmakers from the inception of this art form. Yet early independent documentary filmmakers of the 1990s did not have a clear agenda on the representation of collectivity. The crowd in their films appears as an indistinguishable entity, akin to a passive or inactive social agent. More recent documentaries present significantly more complicated interactions between the camera and the crowd and deliberately tap into the problem of representation of contemporary crowds not just from a formal perspective, but from a political perspective as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)656-679
Number of pages24
JournalModern China
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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