Dancing with water:women’s cinema from contemporary China

“Nothing in the world is as soft and weak as water, and yet in attacking what is hard and strong, there is nothing that can surpass it. There is because there is nothing that can be used in its stead.”

– Dao De Jing (Chapter 78)

Dancing with water: women’s cinema from contemporary China is a film season curated and programmed by Kiki Tianqi Yu (Queen Mary University of London) and Shan Tong (Beijing). It aims to create a space to revitalise the way we think feminism, power, cinema and film practice, as well as relationally being in contemporary world.

At a time when feminism requests a critical re-evaluation facing overwhelming neo-liberalisation; when women filmmakers globally request serious appreciation under the patriarchal structure of film industries; and when debates on women become a rare platform for public engagement within the PRC, Dancing with Water captures a burgeoning energy of fluidity, flexibility and resilience of Chinese women filmmakers and their cinemas. Expanding the spirit of early post-socialist Chinese women filmmakers who have quietly carved out spaces for inwards and outwards interrogation, the women directors featured in this programme are collectively forming a compelling strength to problematise how to think of women and feminism.


Dancing with Water connects discussions of women and cinema with the Daoist concept of yin as a transformative power that is usually associated with water as soft, hidden but also pervasive and resilient. By foregrounding the feminine abilities to nourish, to adapt, to pervade, and to surpass the hard and the seemingly unchangeable, as manifested in these films and valued by Daoism,it explores how women’s conditions in specific cultural and social contexts can speak to the global audience.

Running from February to April 2024, this curated programme constitutes five sessions: “Genders and sexualities: Fluidity and resilience”; “Maternal ties: unbreakable Love and pains”; “Pasts and Futures: interflowing fiction/nonfiction”; “Diving into the Inner World”; and “Diaspora Blues”. Together, it presents 13 features and 9 shorts encompassing fiction, documentary, animation, and experimental, made by women filmmakers from PRC within the last four years. In addition to screenings, there will also be introductions, interactive Q&As, three panel discussions, two filmmakers’ masterclasses, and a Dao Yin meditative workshop, where the audience’s participation will shape the debates and flow of meditation. While bringing contemporary Chinese women filmmakers under spotlight, and engaging conversations with UK audiences and industrial professionals, it also aims to help the audience to revaluate their own strength facing difficult times.

This project is funded by the Centre for Public Engagement large Grant, Queen Mary University of London, led by Kiki Tianqi Yu researching on ‘Daoism and Cinema’, and supported by QMUL’s Film Studies Department, and operated in partnership with Beijing International Short Film Festival where Shan Tong is a curator, the Garden Cinema, Curzon Dochouse, Sine Screen, and Queer East Festival. Not a co-incidence, most people we work with in bringing this film season together, including filmmakers, distributors, curators, programmers, funders and promoters are women, whose efforts in making aesthetic and strategic decisions all echoes water’s nature of adaptability, nonobedience and always penetrating boundaries. Hence, we propose ‘dancing with water’ as women’s way of being and as this film season’s overall temperament.

Water as an inherited force that is traditionally, ecologically and philosophically associated with yin and femininity in East Asia, if not more widely, once again offers an energising route to rethink feminism, power, and relationally being in the contemporary world.




「與水共舞:當代中國女性電影展」將於2024年2月11日在英國倫敦開幕; 放映、討論及相關活動將一直持續到4月。本次影展將以5個策展單元呈現中國女性電影與女性創作者的12部長片和9部短片。這些影片大多為2021年後完成的新銳佳作,且廣泛涉及劇情、紀錄與非虛構、動畫和實驗電影等多個類型。影展嘗試以道家思想中的「陰柔」和水的內在力量作為思辨基礎,用影像以及相關討論營造一個公共空間,重新思考女性主義,力量、電影與藝術實踐。

當全球女性電影人在父權制主導的電影工業中聚集力量、不得不被正視時;當女性與性別話題罕見地開闢出國內為數不多的、可以被公開爭論的輿論空間時,當全球範圍內勢不可擋的新自由主義,要求女性主義被重新批判性地評估時,「與水共舞」 將目光投向中國當代女性電影以及女性創作者,嘗試捕捉其中所呈現的流動(fluidity)、靈活(flexibility)和韌性(resilience)。上世紀八十年代後期以來,中國女性電影人如黃蜀芹、張暖忻、李少紅、寧瀛、李玉、楊荔鈉等實驗性地開闢了女性探索內心及外部社會的影像空間,本次影展中呈現的創作者們則繼續拓展了這種嘗試:她們的作品在當下以某種集體性的面貌為我們如何重新思考女性與女性主義提供了線索。「與水共舞」 嘗試將有關「女性」和「電影」的討論與中國哲學特別是道教思想中‘陰柔’的概念聯繫在一起。「陰柔」作為一種變革性的力量,通常與水的意象緊密相連。水柔軟無形,但極富滲透力和韌性。與其本質化地定義何為「女性電影」,我們更希望將這些多元跨界的影像作為一個集合(assembly),凸顯其中所蘊含的、屬於女性的靈活、沁潤、柔軟但堅不可摧的特質;也希望通過呈現特定社會文化背景下的女性境況來與全球觀眾對話。

「與水共舞」 醖釀於兩位學者策展人余天琦(倫敦瑪麗女王大學電影系副教授)和佟珊 (北京國際短片聯展策展人)的跨國對話和討論。兩位女性學者在跨國共同觀影和反思中策劃了5個單元,共12部長片和9部短片,跨越了劇情、紀錄與非虛構、動畫和實驗電影等多個類型。這些影片體現了當代中國女性電影與女性跨越邊界的創造力和勇氣——而這些都與女性主義對新自由主義父權制框架下既定主流觀念與等級秩序的挑戰一脈相承。

其中3個長片單元呈現了諸多新銳女性電影人的首部或第二部作品:Genders and Sextualities: Fluidity and Resilence包含了開幕影片《這個女人》(阿爛,2023)、閉幕影片《綠夜》(韓帥,2023)、《密語者》(馮都&趙青,2022)和《錯落斑駁的》(鄭陸心源,2022),4部長片從不同角度提供對性別與性的思考; Maternal Ties: Unbreakable Love and Pains則呈現《STONEWALLING》(黃驥&大冢龍治,2022)、《媽媽和七天的時間》(李冬梅,2020)、《中華壞女人》(何小培,2021)3部探討女性與母親之間關係的長片;Pasts and Futures: Interflowing Fiction/Nonfiction囊括了《不要再見啊,魚花塘》(牛小雨,2021)、《長談》(蘇七七,2023)、《河流,奔跑著,倒映著》(朱聲仄,2021)、《倒錯的編年史:出/入亞洲之旅》(潘律&荒木悠,2021)4部充滿實驗或思辨氣質的作品。兩個短片單元則聚焦近年華語短片創作中女性作者或呈現女性處境的作品:Diving into the Inner World將呈現《河岸》(馬維佳,2020),《絳河》(陳璇,2021),《兒童文學》(梁靜圓,2021),《銀幕》(蔡採貝,2022)、《復活節》(鄒欣然,2022)等5部短片; Diaspora Blues則包含《循環的夜》(申迪,2021),《出遊》(王柯靜,2021),《有羽毛的東西》(徐天林,2022),這次展映的唯一男性創作者的女性獨白作品《家家》(姚國禎,2022)等4部短片。本次影展還將特別放映馬來西亞華人導演陳翠梅的《野蠻人入侵》(2021),以嘗試將討論延伸至更廣闊的「華語女性電影」創作,勾勒出不同社會文化中女性不同或相似的遭遇和處境。

除了放映之外,本次影展還特別策劃了映後問答、影人對話、研討會和冥想工作坊等環節,聚焦中國當代女性電影與電影人的同時,開啓與英國本土觀眾和業內人士對話,觀眾的參與也將成為構建公共討論的重要部分。 借助影像的力量,我們也希望能夠聯結和啓發身處困境的觀眾,重新認識自己的內在力量。

本影展由倫敦瑪麗女王大學公眾參與中心(Centre for Public Engagement)資助;作為《電影與道教思想》研究項目其中一部分,影展也得到倫敦瑪麗女王大學電影系(QMUL Film Studies Department)和BLOC影院的支持,並與北京國際短片聯展(BISFF)、倫敦花園電影院(The Garden Cinema)、Bertha 紀錄片影院(Bertha DocHouse)、弦影像(Sine Screen)和酷兒東方藝術節(Queer East Festival)等多個機構合作, 獲得倫敦瑪麗女王大學和倫敦國王學院學生和畢業生的有力協助。或許並非巧合,此次策展過程中我們遇到的諸多合作者和幫助過我們的人,如電影創作者、發行商、策展人、資助者和推廣者,也多為女性。她們在各自工作中所展現的專業品質和態度也與「水」所代表的適應性、協助性、韌勁和跨界的本質相呼應。「與水共舞」 既可以被視為當代女性的存在方式,也符合本次影展的整體氣質;而‘水’之意象也將為重新思考女性主義、力量和當代世界之間的關係提供一條充滿想象力與可能性的路徑。

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