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American Filmmakers in China, Part VI
by Bart Weiss 14 Dec 2011

Guest Blogger Bart Weiss writes about his trip to China for the American Documentary Showcase. This is his fifth post from the trip.


Guest blogger Bart Weiss is the Artistic Director of VideoFest. He will be blogging from China during his trip for the American Documentary Showcase. Read his previous post here.

On Wednesday, we had a great class (above) at the Central Academy of Drama. We thought these would be college students interested only in fiction films.  And I was convinced that would be the case when the first question we got was about Terrence Malick. But many of the students had interesting ideas about documentaries – they just had no idea how to go about shooting them. So we went over basics of research,  how to think about a scene (and not just a shoot). We talked about sound and about how to cut the film down with editing and how to string together ideas and make them coherent. They were really loving it, and they seemed really inspired. I am sure that two or three or more of  these students will make a documentary in the next few months.

After the day’s screening of my traveling partner Harrod Blank’s film, we had a walk through some nice shops in an older part of Beijing. There really aren’t many old places – it kind of reminds of Dallas in the early ’80s, when everything seemed to be torn down for new, new, new.

Harrod and some new friends at the U.S. Embassy.

There were coffee shops and fast food places – one made this kind of pancake (check out a two-part video of the process here and then here) and one place had something that was at the State Fair of Texas last year – fried ice cream!
There were also some interesting souvenirs (right). We then went to our next program, which was at an off-site U.S. Embassy library space. The attendance at the screening was smallish, but the audience loved it. As we do these Q&A’s after the film, people in the audience either want to talk about the process of making documentaries or about the art cars featured in the film. This crowd was very interested in the art car.
After the screening, we went to dinner with some of the embassy  folks to a Middle Eastern restaurant that was very nice and also had a belly dance show every half hour. The belly dancers were definitely not Chinese, and it all seemed very surreal but fun. Plus, the food was a nice change of pace from what we have been eating.
Thursday is my last full day here, and we are starting with a tour of the Great Wall. Should be great.

Come for the dinner, stay for the belly dancing!

  • Oooo Bart, bring me back some Chinese crepes!! Yum!

    Or a knock-off Chinese crepe maker. Or a knock-off Movado watch.

    Knock-off Mini Cooper?

  • Jason Metcalfe

    That crepe thing is called “DanBing” and it is the best. I remember getting these for breakfast in shanghai and paying something absudly low for it, like 2 cents USD. Unfortunately i’ve never seen this around Dallas, though i’d really like to find a place that does them.

  • Sondra Golzad

    I love Mark’s previous requests … notice how they started off small then became larger and larger tee hee. Hilarious !!! Love it.