The Good Life in Jia Zhangke’s Cinema, with Hsiu-Chuang Deppman
Tue. April 2 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
The Carolina Asia Center and the Chinese program of UNC’s Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies are proud to welcome Prof. Hsiu-Chuang Deppman to Chapel Hill for a lecture on her research.
Since the debut of his award-winning feature Pickpocket (1997), Jia Zhangke (b. 1970) has taken the film world by storm. The six-generation director has impressed critics with the intellectual quality and social engagement of his work. In this lecture, I take a different angle on his achievement, focusing on how his films examine the problem of happiness to help us think better about the complex human emotions and conditions that go into a life of perceived well-being. I suggest that Jia bridges the gap between art cinema and the popular imagination by telling moving stories about people’s faltering pursuits of a good life. He innovates a new cinematic language to index the little things in everyday settings—waiting, walking, talking, and staring—drawing special attention to people’s emotive responses to their surroundings. By studying Jia’s affective strategies—including his use of handheld cameras, long takes, long shots, pans, and empty shots (kong jing), as well as his generic hybridity of neorealism with animation and fantasy—we can begin to understand how he conveys so powerfully the psychological impact of good-life objectives on human behaviors. And this, in turn, enables us to think deeper about his critique of the narrative conventions of happiness.
Prof. Hsiu-Chuang Deppman is professor of Chinese and cinema studies at Oberlin College. Her research interests include history of cinema, film adaptation, documentary, media studies, comparative literature, and modern Chinese fiction.
The Carolina Asia Center supports diverse Asia-related events. However, CAC co-sponsorship of any talk, seminar, documentary screening, film screening, performance or celebration does not constitute endorsement of or agreement with the views presented therein. As an academic institution, we value diverse perspectives that promote dialogue and understanding.