By Yingchi Chu
In China, not like in Western cinema, documentary movie, instead of fiction movie, has been the dominant mode because 1949. lately, documentary television programmes have skilled a meteoric upward thrust. Arguing that there's a slow technique of 'democratization' within the media, within which documentaries play an important role, this book discusses a number of sorts of chinese language documentaries, below either the deliberate and the industry financial system. It in particular explores the courting among documentaries and society, exhibiting how, below the marketplace financial system, even though the govt maintains to exploit the style as propaganda to advertise its ideologies and rules, documentaries are getting used as a medium the place public issues and substitute voices should be heard.
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Extra info for Chinese Documentaries: From Dogma to Polyphony (Media, Culture and Social Change in Asia Series)
The linguistic-semiotic principles at work here can be taken as an analogue to actual socio-political situations, as well as the specifics of media discourse. When we consider the history of documentary film in China, even a summary view strongly suggests that we are dealing with the evolution of a genre from monological towards polyphonic modes of presentation, from authoritarian to participatory cinematic conventions. However, not all monological films are of necessity authoritarian, just as not all participatory documentaries could be called ‘democratic’.
Third, Zheng Wei observes a deep difference in the ways Chinese and Western documentaries tell their stories. While the former celebrates detail and narrative continuity, Western styles prefer discontinuities, leaps, and fragmentation (Zheng Wei 1997: 196–204). These principles are very much supported in the work of Ren and Peng who focus on four major differences: Western understanding of documentary foregrounds the real where the Chinese emphasise educational benefits; the West highlights individual values where the Chinese filmmaker emphasises an ideal of social morality; in terms of narrative strategies, Western documentaries often celebrate fragmentation while the Chinese prefer narrative closure; lastly, the main difference as to the filmic image lies in the Western preference for dynamic presentation as against the careful framing of the photographic still in Chinese documentaries (Ren and Peng 1999: 12–17).
Filmmakers now work inside as well as outside the system. Increasingly questions are being raised by filmmakers, producers, film theorists and film critics that address not only the generic mechanisms of documentary film but transcend the boundaries of cinema (Situ 2001: 191; Lü 2003: 253–78). What kind of relation between Party, government and ordinary people should be reflected? Should documentaries continue to remain the tool of government doctrine? Should ordinary people be encouraged to participate in documentary film and documentary filmmaking?