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Dancing with Water
- women's cinema from contemporary China

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Curation note:

                 “Nothing in the world is as soft and weak as water, and yet in attacking what is hard

                   and strong, there is nothing that can surpass it. There is because there is nothing that

                   can be used in its stead”  – Dao De Jing (Chapter 78)

                  Dancing with water: women’s cinema from contemporary China is a film season curated and programmed by Kiki Tianqi Yu (Queen Mary University of London) and Shan Tong (Beijing). It aims to create a space to revitalise the way we think feminism, power, cinema and film practice, as well as relationally being in contemporary world.


At a time when feminism requests a critical re-evaluation facing overwhelming neo-liberalisation; when women filmmakers globally request serious appreciation under the patriarchal structure of film industries; and when debates on women become a rare platform for public engagement within the PRC, Dancing with Water captures a burgeoning energy of fluidity, flexibility and resilience of Chinese women filmmakers and their cinemas. Expanding the spirit of early post-socialist Chinese women filmmakers who have quietly carved out spaces for inwards and outwards interrogation, the women directors featured in this programme are collectively forming a compelling strength to problematise how to think of women and feminism.

Dancing with Water connects discussions of women and cinema with the Daoist concept of yin as a transformative power that is usually associated with water as soft, hidden but also pervasive and resilient. By foregrounding the feminine abilities to nourish, to adapt, to pervade, and to surpass the hard and the seemingly unchangeable, as manifested in these films and valued by Daoism,it explores how women’s conditions in specific cultural and social contexts can speak to the global audience.

Running from February to April 2024, this curated programme constitutes five sessions: “Genders and sexualities: Fluidity and resilience”; “Maternal ties: unbreakable Love and pains”; “Pasts and Futures: interflowing fiction/nonfiction”; “Diving into the Inner World”; and “Diaspora Blues”. Together, it presents 13 features and 9 shorts encompassing fiction, documentary, animation, and experimental, made by women filmmakers from PRC within the last four years. In addition to screenings, there will also be introductions, interactive Q&As, three panel discussions, two filmmakers’ masterclasses, and a Dao Yin meditative workshop, where the audience’s participation will shape the debates and flow of meditation. While bringing contemporary Chinese women filmmakers under spotlight, and engaging conversations with UK audiences and industrial professionals, it also aims to help the audience to revaluate their own strength facing difficult times.

This project is funded by the Centre for Public Engagement large Grant, Queen Mary University of London, led by Kiki Tianqi Yu researching on ‘Daoism and Cinema’, and supported by QMUL’s Film Studies Department, and operated in partnership with Beijing International Short Film Festival where Shan Tong is a curator, the Garden Cinema, Curzon Dochouse, Sine Screen, and Queer East Festival. Not a co-incidence, most people we work with in bringing this film season together, including filmmakers, distributors, curators, programmers, funders and promoters are women, whose efforts in making aesthetic and strategic decisions all echoes water’s nature of adaptability, nonobedience and always penetrating boundaries. Hence, we propose ‘dancing with water’ as women’s way of being and as this film season’s overall temperament.


Water as an inherited force that is traditionally, ecologically and philosophically associated with yin and femininity in East Asia, if not more widely, once again offers an energising route to rethink feminism, power, and relationally being in the contemporary world.

Kiki Tianqi Yu and Shan Tong 

December 2023 





        当全球女性电影人在父权制主导的电影工业中聚集力量、不得不被正视时;当女性与性别话题罕见地开辟出国内为数不多的、可以被公开争论的舆论空间时,当全球范围内势不可挡的新自由主义,要求女性主义被重新批判性地评估时,“与水共舞:中国当代女性电影展“ 将目光投向中国当代女性电影以及女性创作者,尝试捕捉其中所呈现的流动(fluidity)、灵活(flexibility)和韧性(resilience)。上世纪八十年代以来,中国女性电影人如宁瀛、李玉、杨荔钠实验性地开辟了女性探索内心及外部社会的影像空间,本次影展中呈现的创作者们则继续拓展了这种尝试:她们的作品以某种集体性的面貌为我们如何重新思考女性与女性主义提供了线索。

           “与水共舞” 尝试将有关“女性”和“电影”的讨论与中国哲学特别是道教思想中‘阴柔’的概念联系在一起。“阴柔”作为一种变革性的力量,通常与水的意象紧密相连。水柔软无形,但极富渗透力和韧性。与其本质化地定义何为“女性电影”,我们更希望将这些多元跨界的影像作为一个集合(assembly),凸显其中所蕴含的、属于女性的灵活、沁润、柔软但坚不可摧的特质;也希望通过呈现特定社会文化背景下的女性境况来与全球观众对话。

          本次影展所包含的12部长片和9部短片,跨越了剧情、纪录与非虚构、动画和实验电影等多个类型,体现了当代中国女性电影与女性创作者无拘无束的创造力以及跨界、越轨的勇气——而这些都与女性主义对新自由主义父权制框架下既定主流观念与等级秩序的挑战一脉相承。这些影片将通过5个策展单元来展出,其中3个长片单元呈现了诸多新锐女性电影人的首部或第二部作品:Genders and Sextualities: Fluidity and Resilence包含了《这个女人》(阿烂,2023)、《绿夜》(韩帅,2023)、《秘语者》(冯都&赵青,2022)和《错落斑驳的》(郑陆心源,2022)4部长片; Maternal Ties: Unbreakable Love and Pains则呈现《石门》(黄骥&大冢龙治,2022)、《妈妈和七天的时间》(李冬梅,2020)、《中华坏女人》(何小培,2021);Pasts and Futures: Interflowing Fiction/Nonfiction囊括了《不要再见啊,鱼花塘》(牛小雨,2021)、《长谈》(苏七七,2023)、《河流奔跑着,倒映着…》(朱声仄,2021)、《倒错的编年史:出/入亚洲之旅》(荒木悠&潘律,2021)4部充满实验或思辨气质的作品。两个短片单元则聚焦近年华语短片创作中女性作者或聚焦女性处境的作品:Diving into the Inner World将呈现《河岸》(马维佳,2020),《降河》(陈萱,2021),《儿童文学》(梁静圆,2021),《银幕》(蔡采贝,2022)、《复活节》(邹欣然,2022)等5部短片; Diaspora Blues则包含《循环的夜》(申迪,2021),《出游》(王柯静,2021),《有羽毛的东西》(徐天林,2022),《家家》(姚国祯,2022)等4部短片。本次影展还将特别放映马来西亚华人导演陈翠梅的《野蛮人入侵》(2021),以尝试将讨论延伸至更广阔的“华语女性电影”创作,勾勒出不同社会文化中女性不同或相似的遭遇和处境。

             除放映之外,本次影展还特别策划了映后问答、影人对话、研讨会和冥想工作坊等环节,聚焦中国当代女性电影与电影人的同时,开启与英国本土观众和业内人士对话,观众的参与也将成为构建公共讨论的重要部分。 借助影像的力量,我们也希望能够联结和启发身处困境的观众,重新认识自己的内在力量。

             本影展由两位学者余天琦(伦敦玛丽女王大学电影系副教授)和佟珊 (北京国际短片联展策展人)策划,伦敦玛丽女王大学公众参与中心(Centre for Public Engagement)资助;作为《电影与道教思想》研究项目其中一部分,影展也得到伦敦玛丽女王大学电影系(Film Studies Department)和BLOC影院的支持,并与北京国际短片联展(BISFF)、伦敦花园电影院(The Garden Cinema)、Bertha 纪录片影院(Bertha DocHouse)、弦影像(Sine Screen)和酷儿东方艺术节(Queer East Festival)等多个机构合作。或许并非巧合,此次策展过程中我们遇到的诸多合作者,如电影创作者、发行商、策展人、资助者和推广者,也多为女性。她们在各自工作中所展现的专业品质也与“水”所代表的适应性、韧劲和跨界的本质相呼应。“与水共舞”既可以被视为当代女性的存在方式,也符合本次影展的整体气质;而‘水’之意象也将为重新思考女性主义、力量和当代世界之间的关系提供一条充满想象力与可能性的路径。



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