The School of International Communications is pleased to announce a public talk by Chris Berry, Professor in Film Studies, King's College London titled "Wu Wenguang and the Folk Memory Project: What is in the Alternative Archive of Chinese Independent Documentary?".
About the talk
Wu Wenguang is seen not only as the father of Chinese independent documentary, but also an oral historian. His early films captured aspects of contemporary everyday life rarely seen on mainstream television in the 1990s. In recent years, Wu and many other documentarians have turned to oral history. What are the events that these oral history films remember? What is the significance of remembering them? In the Folk Memory Project, Wu's young colleagues working with him at the Caochangdi Workstation in Beijing have gone back to their ancestral villages, where their grandparents still live. They have not only filmed the old people talking about surviving the famines of the early 1960s, but also everyone in the village talking about whether it is a good thing to remember those difficult times. In this way, their films are not only oral history documentaries, but also films that reflect on the value of remembering the past. This talk considers the oral history achievements of Wu Wenguang and his colleagues in the light of debates about official memory and popular memory, as well as memory, forgetting, and the construction of national identity.
Professor Berry has published a huge body of influential work, including (with Mary Farquhar) Cinema and the National: China on Screen (Columbia University Press and Hong Kong University Press, 2006); (ed.) Chinese Cinema, 4 vols, (London: Routledge, 2012); (edited with Janet Harbord and Rachel Moore), Public Space, Media Space (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); (edited with Lu Xinyu and Lisa Rofel), The New Chinese Documentary Film Movement: For the Public Record (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2010); (edited with Kim Soyoung and Lynn Spigel), Electronic Elsewheres: Media, Technology, and Social Space (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010); (edited with Nicola Liscutin and Jonathan D. Mackintosh), Cultural Studies and Cultural Industries in Northeast Asia: What a Difference a Region Makes (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2009).
In the 1980s, he worked for China Film Import and Export Corporation in Beijing, and his academic research is grounded in work on Chinese cinema and other Chinese screen-based media, as well as neighboring countries. He is especially interested in queer screen cultures in East Asia; mediatized public space in East Asian cities; and national and transnational screen cultures in East Asia. Together with John Erni, Peter Jackson, and Helen Leung, he edits the Queer Asia book series for Hong Kong University Press. Prior to his current appointment at King's College London, he taught at La Trobe University in Melbourne, The University of California, Berkeley, and Goldsmiths, University of London.