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.
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.