september, 2016

03sep5:00 pm8:00 pmFeaturedFESTIVAL OF DEMOCRACY | Documentary films screening: Eid al-Fitr and Return of Lost Souls5:00 pm - 8:00 pm Event Organized By: Sydney Democracy Network, China Studies Centre and Sydney Fringe Festival

Event Details

The return of China to global prominence has prompted local and foreign observers to ask searching questions: is there an emerging ‘Chinese identity’? When the phrase ‘with Chinese characteristics’ is used, what exactly does this mean? Does it have any meaning at all? Screened for the first time in Australia, the remarkable documentaries by two of China’s most creative documentary film makers probe these questions in surprising ways. Return of Lost Souls (魂归何处) (2016), by Nina Ningtong Wang, and Xiangchen Liu’s Eid al-Fitr (开斋节) (2015), complicate mainstream understandings of Chinese identity. Featuring Muslims living in south-west Xinjiang, and the animist Hmong peoples living on the Laos/China border, the films highlight the resilience of local cultures that function as cross-border imagined communities; the spread of Chinese economic power; women and family life; the challenges posed by rapid urbanisation; and the continuing grip of religious belief in shaping the everyday lives of peoples living at the borders of China.

Image: Return of Lost Souls, 2016


LiuXiangchen Liu

Liu Xiangchen is widely regarded as one of China’s leading documentary filmmakers. A writer and scholar, he studied visual anthropology at Xinjiang Normal University in China. Among his best-known documentaries is The Sun Tribe (2005), which was screened by CCTV, the National Geographic Channel in the United States and in many other countries. His Jade Mountain (2002), Asiq: The Last Troubador (2011) and The Feast of Kurban Bayram (2012) have all been screened outside of China, and have won many awards, including the best documentary at the Chinese Film Academy awards (2008), China Visual Anthropology Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (2010) and the International Gold Panda (Sichuan 2011). Liu Xiangchen has spent many years recording the daily lives of ethnic minority groups on China’s periphery, especially in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. His latest film, screened for the first time in Australia, is Eid al-Fitr (开斋节). Based on many months’ fieldwork and filming among the Kyrgyz people of Xinjiang, it examines in detail the lives of China’s Muslims during the Eid al-Fitr festival that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

Nina Ningtong Wang

Nina Ningtong Wang is a prominent Chinese documentary filmmaker, visual anthropologist, university teacher and TV personality. For over a decade, she has been the producer, screenwriter and host of more than 200 documentaries for the weekly educational program Global Film Report on the China Movie Channel (CCTV6) that reaches around 850 million viewers. Filmed entirely overseas, the program theme is ‘travel and discover world culture through moving pictures’. A graduate of the Beijing Dance Academy and holding degrees in filmmaking, media and communications from the University of Bristol (MA) and Beijing’s Communications University of China (PhD), Nina Wang writes columns for China ScreenMovie Guide and other magazines.  She has also researched and advised the BBC, the Chinese TV broadcast market and other outlets including the Discovery Channel, KBS and NHK on creative content and global program design. Her work has also featured high-profile dialogues with Shimon Peres, Hugh Jackman, Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Volker Schlöndorff, Edward Norton, Catherine Deneuve, Agnes Varda, Jean-Jacques Annaud and other public figures. Nina Wang is currently working on a documentary film series on the subject of China’s borderlands, minority cultures and the Hmong peoples of southern China and Laos. Her Return of Lost Souls (魂归何处) will be screened for the first time in Australia.

Tickets: $16 available at Sydney Fringe Festival


(Saturday) 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm


No 1 Verona Cinema

17 Oxford St, Paddington NSW 2021


Sydney Democracy Network, China Studies Centre and Sydney Fringe