Past Event

From Co-Production to Distribution and Exhibition: The Future of Chinese Cinema in the World

May 14, 2024
7:00 AM - 9:00 AM
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Columbia Global Center Beijing, 1F Core Plaza, 1 Shanyuan Street, Zhongguancun, Haidian District



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Time: Tuesday, May 14, 7:00PM-9:00PM (Beijing)

Location: Columbia Global Center Beijing, 1F Core Plaza, No. 1 Shanyuan Street, Zhongguancun, Haidian District

Language: English

If Wu Wenguang's Bumming in Beijing (1990) is considered to mark the birth of Chinese independent cinema, that cinema celebrated its 30th birthday in 2020. The last two decades saw the emergence of a broader film culture supporting Chinese independent filmmaking, from film festivals to film criticism, from film labs to international co-productions.

Can we still speak of independent cinema in China, and if so, what does it mean to do so? How can we assess the importance of international actors in the consolidation of the Chinese independent film industry over the years? The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a reduction in exchanges between China and the rest of the world, resulting in a downturn in economic interactions. Despite these challenges, cultural exchanges, especially in the entertainment industry, have seen a resurgence. The 2024 edition of the Cannes Film Festival symbolizes the renaissance of Chinese cinema, which will feature five titles, including the awaited latest work of Jia Zhangke, Caught By The Tides, presented in the Main Competition.

Initiated by Columbia alumna Héloïse Garry (GS '21) and co-organized by the Columbia Global Center Beijing and the China Institute Next Gen x Serica, this panel discussion seeks to gather film scholars and industry professionals to evaluate the current landscape of film production, distribution, and exhibition of Chinese films internationally and explore potential future directions. It also addresses the development of new actors in and outside China participating in the shaping of the future state of the industry.

After more than thirty years of independent filmmaking, what has Chinese independent cinema become, and how can it evolve in the years to come?



Richard Peña

Richard Peña is an Emeritus Professor of Film and Media Studies at Columbia University, where he specializes in film theory and international cinema. From 1988 to 2012, he was the Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival. At the Film Society, Richard Peña organized retrospectives of many film artists, including Michelangelo Antonioni, Sacha Guitry, Abbas Kiarostami, King Hu, Robert Aldrich, Roberto Gavaldon, Ritwik Ghatak, Kira Muratova, Fei Mu, Valerio Zurlini, Youssef Chahine, Yasujiro Ozu, Carlos Saura, Nagisa Oshima and Amitabh Bachchan, as well as major film series devoted to African, Israeli, Cuban, Polish, Hungarian, Spanish, Chinese, Arab, Korean, Swedish, Turkish, German, Italian and Argentine cinema.


Jonah Greenberg

Having helped to start the Beijing office of Creative Artists Agency, Jonah Greenberg has been at the forefront of Chinese entertainment for more than 20 years. As Managing Director of CAA China, Greenberg represented many of China's top filmmakers and packaged many of its top films until 2018, when he branched out to start Salty Pictures, a Beijing-based film and TV production company. Greenberg's producing credits include One Last Dance, which competed in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, and Shadow, from world-renowned filmmaker Zhang Yimou.

Salty's first picture is Cave Rescue (2021), which portrays the thrilling 2018 rescue of the "Wild Boars" soccer team in Thailand.  The film premiered at the Pingyao International Film Festival in 2021 and came out in theaters in August 2022. Salty's first TV production is a three-episode docu-series about the only time that American and Chinese counternarcotics agencies worked together.


Xiao-Dong Guo

Xiao-Dong Guo is a film producer, editor, and curator. He founded Levo Films Pte. Ltd. (Singapore) and produced Caro Mio Ben (My Dear Beloved) (Yamagata IDFF 2017), The Tree House (Locarno 2019), Les Attendants (Berlinale 2021), Republic (Busan IFF 2023) etc. He edited award-winning films such as Free & EasyKnife in the Clear Water, and Lush Reeds. He is the founder of the New Asian Filmmakers Collective. He has organized 21 workshops in Asian countries and trained more than 300 local independent filmmakers since 2018. He is the co-founder of China based film community LAST Commune, known for its editing residency to support female directors in difficulties.


Rongfei Guo

Rongfei Guo is a Chinese award-winning filmmaker who graduated from New York University, where she majored in Documentary. Her films have been selected for over 40 international film festivals and won 15 awards. She was awarded the Student Academy Award in 2016. She is currently developing her debut feature, Dear Red, which has been selected for the 2021 Festival De Cannes Cinefondation Residence, Tokyo Talent, and CFDG Young Director Support Program. Her short film Fairy Tales won the Best Short Documentary Award at the Melbourne International Film Festival and Asian American Film Festival. During COVID-19, she made her first musical short film, Girl with a Thermal Gun, which won the Best Narrative Short Award at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Special Jury Award at the Flickerfest International Film Festival, and was a 2022 Oscar contender.


Aladin Farré

Aladin Farré has been involved in the factual content industry (documentaries, podcasts, news) as a producer for more than 10 years. He first made historical documentaries in Paris and moved to Beijing in 2017. Since then, he has created more than a dozen projects for Chinese and international audiences, such as the feature-length documentary Let the World Look at Me (2023 - Director Fan Lixin) and the documentary series Decoding the Miracle of Justice (2023 - Director Zhang Nan). He has also translated various Chinese feature films. Lastly, he is the host of the podcast "Middle-earth - China's Cultural Industry," which ranks in the top 10% of the most downloaded podcasts in the world. In 2023, he served as a judge for the DocLab selection of the 2023 FIRST Film Festival.



Héloïse Garry

A graduate of Columbia University, Sciences Po, and Sorbonne University, where she studied Economics, Philosophy, and Film, Héloïse Garry has gathered work experience in the film industry across Europe, Asia, and the United States. She has served within the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to carry out missions in Singapore and the United States in the realm of cultural diplomacy, fostering collaborations between French and international artists. She assisted in the curation of the first-ever retrospective devoted to Agnès Varda in Singapore and supervised the Nobel-Prize winner Annie Ernaux's visit to New York and promotion of her film Nos Années Super 8 at the New York Film Festival, where she also served as translator.

A former recipient of the Gotham Film & Media Institute International Fellowship, she advised the institution in the promotion and financing of international independent film projects in the United States. Currently a Yenching Scholar at Peking University and a member of CINGS, her research focuses on the cinema of Jia Zhangke and the contemporary Chinese film industry. She was a visiting researcher at the Waseda Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, where she examined the connections between the Chinese and Japanese film industries.