Murmuring voices of the everyday: Jia Zhitan and his village documentaries

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This essay examines the documentary films made by Jia Zhitan, a 64-year-old Chinese farmer who has been participating in the ‘Villager Documentary Project’ initiated by Wu Wenguang, the renowned independent documentary filmmaker in China. By looking at seven documentary films made by Jia Zhitan between 2006 and 2013, this essay draws upon the concept of everydayness and presents a localised picture of rural life in contemporary China as reflected in Jia’s films. It also aims to investigate the meaning of peasant documentary filmmaking in the contexts of independent documentary culture in China, as well as the century-long sociological and ethnographic probing into Chinese village life. My analysis focuses on three aspects of village life featured predominantly in Jia’s films: the rhythm of everyday life, village politics, and the history of the socialist past. Taken together, these aspects point to the aesthetics, politics and historicity of the concept of everydayness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-186
JournalJournal of Chinese Cinemas
Issue number2
Early online date14 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


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