"What about China?" Screening and Conversation

Venue: UCSC Communications Building Studio C

This is the inaugural event of the speakers series on Rethinking Socialist Environmental Media. UC Berkeley Professor Trinh T. Minh-ha will show her documentary, What about China?, which will be followed by a conversation and Q&A with the audience. 

The Rethinking Socialist Environmental Media speakers series is a collaborative project conceived by Co-PIs, Boreth Ly (HAVC), Hunter Bivens (Literature), and Yiman Wang (Film and Digital Media). This project is generously funded by COR and ARI large grants. 

Filmmaker, writer, composer Trinh T. Minh-ha is a Distinguished Professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work includes: 1) nine feature-length films (including What About China? (2021), Forgetting Vietnam (2016), Night Passage (2004), The Fourth Dimension (2001), A Tale of Love (1996), Shoot for the Contents (1991), Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989), Naked Spaces (1985), and Reassemblage (1982), honored in some sixty-nine retrospectives around the world; 2) several large-scale multimedia installations, including In Transit (Manifesta 13, Marseille, 2020) L’Autre marche (Musée du Quai Branly, Paris 2006-2009), Old Land New Waters (3rd Guangzhou Triennial, China 2008, Okinawa Museum of Fine Arts 2007), The Desert is Watching (Kyoto Biennial, 2003); and 3) numerous books, such as Lovecidal. Walking with The Disappeared (2016), D-Passage. The Digital Way (2013), Elsewhere, Within Here (2011), Cinema Interval (1999), and Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism (1989).

Her many awards include; the 2014 Wild Dreamer Lifetime Achievement Award at the Subversive Film Festival, Zagreb; the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from Women's Caucus for Art; the 2012 Critics Choice Book Award of the American Educational Studies Association; the 2006 Trailblazers Award at MIPDoc in Cannes, France; and the 1991 AFI National Independent Filmmaker Maya Deren Award. Her latest film, What About China? has received the 2022 New:Vision Award at CPH:DOX Film Festival in Copenhagen; The 2022 Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award at the San Francisco Int. Film Festival and the Prix Bartók at the 2022 Jean Rouch Film festival, the Inspiration Award at Viet Film Fest, a Special Commendation at the BFI London Film Festival and the Presidential Award at the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland Film Festival

What About China?
By Trinh T. Minh-ha
2021, Digital film, 135 mins

In the politics and ethics of representation, the challenge of speaking nearby (rather than merely “about”) takes on a new lease of life with each film made. To refuse the readymade of packaged specialized knowledge is to keep open that relation of infinity within the finite in filming, writing, and research. When one works in a nonknowing mode, one remains open to allowing things to come to oneself in an unexpected way. Ear, eye, and voice, for example, never duplicate one another. They interact in counterpoints, syncopations, off beats, and polyrhythms. As the base from which form is created and undone, rhythm determines both social and sensorial relationships. The play of hear and see constantly solicits the hearing eye and the seeing ear, and multivocality can be intimately experienced in its multisensory bodily diversity.

Drawing from footage shot mostly in 1993–94 in villages in eastern and southern China linked in common lore to the remote origins of the country’s civilizations, What about China? takes the notion of harmony in China as a site of creative manifestation. Highly valued as a virtue and a guiding criterion in ethics, harmony has played an important role in the lives of Chinese people since ancient times—harmony with society, harmony with nature, and harmony with oneself.