IFCHINA Museum of Memories (2010)

The Independent Filmmakers of China (IFCHINA) is an initiative by documentary maker Jian Yi. It focuses on enhancing social cohesion by means of documentary films in smaller local communities, which in turn is also the main topic of most documentaries. With workshops and trainings Jian Yi stimulates individuals to document their lives in order to create a sense of community and belonging for them. In the context of the Chinese Communist regime this is a remarkable project, providing individuals with a voice in surroundings which solely focuses on the importance of the community. By means of its projects, IFCHINA intends to promote a higher degree of self-governance in the rural areas of China. Other than the large cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, the rural areas are not fast-paced and are not subject to continuous technological and cultural change. Therefore the differences between citizens of villages and cities become tremendous. As the government is not stimulating developments which heighten the living conditions in the rural areas, Jian Yi utilizes documentary film as an instrument for the villagers to change the focus away from the community onto their own lives. This is both to strengthen their sense of community as rural villagers as well as their role as individuals in these communities. 

IFCHINA Museum of Memories (2010)

"enhancing social cohesion by means of documentary films "

Interview with Jian Yi

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Jian Yi

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Village Documentary

Background Information

 

Currently IFCHINA is producing several types of projects concerning daily life in rural China. They organize documentaries, photography exhibitions, and theatre and oral history productions. In collaboration with the local Jinggangshan University, IFCHINA realised a Participatory Documentary Centre. The successful Villager Documentary Project, launched in 2005, is an example of the activities of this centre. Inhabitants of rural villages document their daily lives and edit the footage into their own documentaries. The centre also stimulates school children and adolescents in photographing and reporting on their own lives.

 

Against the background of their current projects, IFCHINA decided to expand its activities and provide a solid basis for them with an initiative titled the Museum of Memories. This is an umbrella initiative hosting five types of activities; an artist residency programme, a community film festival, an art museum, a publication on IFCHINA’s work and projects and an online Museum of Memories. The variety of activities also means it is an interdisciplinary undertaking, reaching the disciplines of film, video, community art, touching upon the concepts of identity formation and communal memories. This sense of community is crucial in all the activities, as not only the rural areas do not keep up with the fast-paced changes in the metropolitan areas, also many villagers move away from the countryside into the urban areas. This means that the collective memory of a village or rural area is not sustained, as the younger generations move away. IFCHINA wants to restore this collective memory by means of documenting current circumstances and confirming the villagers’ sense of identity as just as valuable and worthwhile as the collective identity was decades ago. Jian Yi is convinced he is able to reach his target audience, because he is also working with them. The inhabitants who make the documentary films also come to the festivals to watch them and bring their family and friends. This has proven to be a useful method in enhancing social and communal cohesion, as the Villager Documentary Project is entering its fifth anniversary in 2010.

 

The region in which the IFCHINA activities at the moment occur and in which the Participatory Documentary Center is located has a symbolic meaning. It is in the city Ji’An in the province of Jiangxi. Ji’An is at the bottom of the Jinggangshan Mountains, which played an important role in the emergence of Mao Zedong’s Communist revolution. This was decided to enable IFCHINA in contributing to a reformulation of the esthetic values which have been propagated by the regime since the revolution. These esthetic values completely fit within the regime of the Communist Party and are rooted in political traditions. Jian Yi wants to counter these traditions by using new media and new points of view on traditional subject matter. In addition, a counterweight is provided against the recent developments of the Jiangxi-area, which increasingly attracts so-called Mao tourists. This is stimulated by the government, while the local inhabitants feel this is imposed on them by the government, without their involvement. Local habits and cultural traditions are overruled by political decision-making, with the use of an effective propaganda machine. By changing the focus back to the daily lives of the villagers, IFCHINA wants to contribute and build on their sense of belonging and self-esteem as rural inhabitants in a large, continually changing and most importantly politically steered environment.

 

In 2010 IFCHINA is still developing the pilot for the Museum of Memories. By having this project already listed in the Prince Claus Fund Documentation Room is a show of support for and appreciation of the work of IFCHINA in their attempt of breaking through the silent zone of current rural China. For his work and dedication Jian Yi received amongst others an Open Society Institute Fellowship funded by the Soros Foundation. Such international appreciation is necessary in building towards a sustainable fundament of documentary film in Chinese self-governance against a background of the Chinese regime.

 

IFCHINA Museum of Memories (2010)

The Independent Filmmakers of China (IFCHINA) is an initiative by documentary maker Jian Yi. It focuses on enhancing social cohesion by means of documentary films in smaller local communities, which in turn is also the main topic of most documentaries. With workshops and trainings Jian Yi stimulates individuals to document their lives in order to create a sense of community and belonging for them....

 
 
 
 

IFCHINA Museum of Memories (2010)

The Independent Filmmakers of China (IFCHINA) is an initiative by documentary maker Jian Yi. It focuses on enhancing social cohesion by means of documentary films in smaller local communities, which in turn is also the main topic of most documentaries. With workshops and trainings Jian Yi stimulates individuals to document their lives in order to create a sense of community and belonging for them....