Film season shining a light on China’s banned movies

Chinese film River of Life, on at the Showroom. Sheffield
Chinese film River of Life, on at the Showroom. Sheffield
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China Now season, Showroom Cinema

Independent film-making in China grew dramatically after the mid-1990s as controls on expression were relaxed by the government and digital technologies meant it was easier to make movies.

However, as official control over the media has become tighter in the past five years, news reporting and film-making alike have been more closely monitored.

Beijing Independent Film Festival showcased the work of film-makers who worked outside the official system.

Screenings of works on sensitive social and political subjects meant that it was forced to close by the authorities and its archive of independent films was confiscated.

The films in the Showroom season were all due to be shown at the 2014 festival, and are now presented as part of the touring series China Now: Independent Visions, as a co-presentation by the University of Sheffield School of East Asian Studies and arts organisation Cinema On The Edge.

On Thursday at 6.30pm, there’s a show ing of The River of Life (certificate 18)

Director Yang Pingdao retells the end of his grandmother’s life and the birth of his daughter.

Viewers see also the everyday shifts and tensions of family life.

The following Thursday, Spark (18) tells the story of a 1960s underground student magazine of the same name that revealed the devastating famine following the Great Leap political programme that caused the death of millions.

The magazine was rapidly suppressed and the famine remains a taboo subject in China.

Box office: Showroom Workstation