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Indie Chinese Cinema Week

ICCW  Founded in 2022, Indie Chinese Cinema Week (ICCW) is a Berlin-based film festival present by CiLENS e.V.. Through curating and screening some of the most captivating, audacious, original and emotional works by filmmakers from Sinophone regions, ICCW aspires to unfold the complex realities of contemporary China with insider perspectives, to foster transcultural communication and to facilitate in-depth exploration of the contemporary China and the Chinese-speaking world within the European context.


Indie Chinese Cinema Week


For the second edition, we have continued with the curatorial approach established from the beginning, focusing on women and gender, minorities and ethnicities, migrant workers, and urbanization. We’ve also included the topic of Chinese Diaspora, aiming to create a diverse and influential cinematic experience.


Our theme of this year is “Bridging the Everyday and the Faraway through the Sinophone Films”. While “the Everyday and the Faraway” delineates geographical divides, it also signifies shifts in thoughts, differences in life experiences, and emotional distances. We endeavor to use “Sinophone” as a prism and “film” as medium, inviting all curious audiences to embark on a journey into a deeper exploration of contemporary China and the broader Chinese-speaking world, bridging the gap between “Us” and the “Others”. 

The feature film program contains 7 titles, including 2 German premieres and 3 Berlin premieres. Building on last year’s success, we’ve also added more post-screening talks with the filmmakers to enable greater room for reflection and discussion.

Besides the opening film, Lou Ye’s classic Blind Massage, and the closing film, Wei Shujun’s Ripples of Life, all the other 5 titles are documentaries. Wang Bing’s latest film, Youth, after its global premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May, will have its Berlin premiere here. S. Louisa Wei’s Havana Divas, which depicts the Chinese diaspora story in Cuba, will have its exclusive director’s cut premiere in Germany, resonating with Luka Yuanyuan Yang’s short film, Coby and Stephen Are in Love. He Xiaopei’s Bad Women of China captures the lives, desires, and family relations of three generations of women through private footage, designating its German debut. Daughter of the Light is a coming-of-age tale by a new-generation Tibetan filmmaker, Khashem Gyal, embedded in the backdrop of life and cultural shifts in Tibet. Another documentary, Sean Wang’s A Marble Travelogue, humorously reflects globalisation through Made in China products, which will also mark its Berlin premiere.


The short film program, compared to last year, has also witnessed improvement in curation—divided into two themed collages, respectively “Re-making History and Memory: Geopolitical Imagination” & “Re-examining the Mundane: Maverick Perspective”. It brings together 8 distinct, diverse, and outstanding short films from various film festivals, showcasing the promising potential of the young generation of Chinese filmmakers and enriching our perception of Chinese-language cinema.


Following last year’s roundtable discussion,“Female Gaze and Subaltern Speak in Contemporary China”, this year’s edition continues its academic, social and cultural exploration. We are honored to have filmmakers, curators, scholars, and critics gather to discuss the “authenticity” in Chinese Indie Cinema across dimensions of history, creativity, curation, and viewership.


Indie Chinese Cinema Week


ICCW 2022, curated by an all-female team, presented a selection of 16 films. Within the feature film section, we delighted the audience with 4 German premieres, and highlighted our feminist vision with works from 4 talented female filmmakers. Our short film section offered a diverse range of genres, including documentary, drama, experimental, stop-motion animation, with a strong emphasis on supporting the creativity of emerging young directors.        

Set against the backdrop of China’s turbulent 20th century, the three-hour opening film
A New Old Play 2021 has gained significant recognition and critical acclaim in recent years. With great pleasure and honor, we proudly secured the Berlin premiere of this film, offering the audiences in Berlin an extraordinary and unforgettable viewing experience. The closing film, Small Talk 2016 was a heartfelt documentary by Taiwanese filmmaker and social worker Hui-Chen Huang, which received the prestigious Teddy Bear Award for Best Documentary at the 67th Berlinale. Additionally, we also screened Tharlo 2015 by Pema Tsedan, a prominent figure of the "Tibetan New Wave", along with another short film titled Bek by Jingyi from Xinjiang, showcasing our dedication to promoting diverse voices from different ethnic backgrounds.                             

Prior to the festival's opening, we had the privilege to host a thought-provoking roundtable discussion with the theme "Female Gaze and Subaltern Speak in Contemporary China," featuring five distinguished guests representing diverse fields. The panel included esteemed figures such as Xiang Biao, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, film studies professor Yu Qiong from Newcastle University, associate professor of sociology Zhou Yunyun from the University of Oslo in Norway, senior lecturer Heike Frick from the Sinology Institute at Freie Universität Berlin, and independent filmmaker Chen Danting.                    

The success of our ICCW 2022 has greatly increased our prominence. Our Instagram account has gained over 1,000 dedicated followers so far, and our WeChat public platform has amassed an impressive following of over 2,000 subscribers. Notably, artists and cultural luminaries in Berlin, including Asian filmmakers and film curators, have been increasingly discussing collaboration with us. CiLENS, together with ICCW, is steadily becoming a distinctive and dynamic presence representing the Chinese world within Berlin’s cultural landscape. 

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