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China’s indie filmmakers and the way of the dragon seal

by Gabrielle Jaffe.

More of them are developing scripts for art house-style movies that can win censors’ approval, helping an industry emerge. But is artistic integrity imperiled?

Yang Jin shot his first film, “The Black and White Milk Cow,” in his hometown in 2004 for $1,600. He asked villagers to be his actors, paying them only in cigarettes, and his main expense was $320 spent renting the titular cow.

The tale of poor, rural China won him a $5,000 prize at Switzerland’s Fribourg International Film Festival, but it had no chance of being seen or making money in his homeland. Because it touched on the subjects of AIDS and Chinese Christians, Yang knew it wouldn’t get past the censors, and thus could never play in Chinese theaters, on TV, or even be sold legally on DVD.

Yang’s second film was a similarly shoestring, underground affair. When it came time for his third, he wanted to do something more sophisticated — and reach a wider audience.

Read the rest of this article from LA Times.

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