By Jenny Chen
The New York Times called it “raw and resolute”; the Hollywood Reporter said it was an “unadorned” look at life in Tibet. The film is “Old Dog,” a project by Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden and it is one of the films set to be screened at the Freer/Sackler Gallery on September 4th as part of the second biannual DC Chinese Film Festival (DCCFF).
Now in it’s second iteration, DCCFF received 327 entries from over 29 countries this year including countries such as Russia, Brazil, Israel and Iraq as well as China, Taiwan, and the United States. All the films are either created by Chinese filmmakers or touch upon the issues facing the Chinese diaspora around the world.
The organizers of the festival hope that this will give Chinese filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their work. “There aren’t many festivals that focus on Chinese films and most [that do] are hosted by the government,” said Echo Xie, the DCCFF Vice President. “We wanted to do a festival that focuses on the contemporary Chinese community.”
Furthermore, the organizers of the festival hope that the film screenings will educate the public about Chinese culture. “Right now, people usually only learn about China through CNN or other big media outlets. It helps cultural communication if we can present a collection of films about real Chinese people,” Xie said.
This year, the festival received an overwhelming number of documentary entries, Xie said. Among her favorites include Golden Gate Girl, a documentary by Hong Kong filmmaker Louisa Wei about the first female Chinese American filmmaker in Hollywood Esther Eng, and My Dad is a Rocker, a documentary short by U.S. based filmmaker Zuxin Hou about the filmmaker’s father who was a rock and roll musician in China.
Special screenings of notable films from the festival will be held at the Freer/Sackler Galleries, the Wilson Center, the Goethe-Institut and the Navy Memorial Theater. In addition, the festival is holding both an online and juried competition for amateur films.
“I am impressed with their ambitions for the festival this year, and the choice of films they were offering,” said Tom Vick, curator of film at the Freer and Sackler Galleries.