Directed and written by Peter Hao Chen
83 mins. Documentary/Fiction.
HD (16:9). Color, Black/White.
Mandarin, English, Cantonese (English subtitles).
Art is not kitsch. Kitsch is art. It is an integral part of how we make sense of the world. Three young artists/filmmakers in different parts of the world set out to tell the same story—-the story of Dafen, a small village neighborhood in Shenzhen, China, where thousands of low-paid migrant workers produce more than half of the world’s oil paintings. Each of them gives Dafen a different layer of narrative, meaning, and kitsch: Walter documents the rural working class who laboriously paints from dawn to dusk, creating millions of copies of Van Gogh, Monet and Klimt en masse to be shipped to the America and Europe. Vincent explores the city of Shenzhen, its landscapes, and the stories they tell about the millions of lives impacted by the sweeping political economic forces that gave rise to the largest migrant city in the world. And Xiaofan reflects on the theoretical implications of the commodification of art, the alienation of labor, and the encounter of high and low art. This film is composed of the three parallel strands of the story of Dafen. It is a collage of documentary, animation, installation art, video essay, poetry and photography, which, like puzzle pieces, converge into a multi-faceted panorama of the lives and spaces under a profoundly transformative era as well as the global chain of (re)imaginations that this era has inspired.
Director: Peter Hao Chen
Original Score: Asuka Ito
Camera Assistant: Yi Luo, Ruiqi Li
Animation Assistant: Jackie Fei
Vending Machine Installation: Elicia Epstein
Voice-over: Yi Luo, Deborah Ball, Peter Hao Chen
Subtitles Editor: Jonathan M. Hall
Co-Produced by: Pacific Basin Institute, Pomona Media Guild
Yuqiao Guo (Xiaofan Guo)
Peter Hao Chen (Vincent Chen)
Charlie Neibel (Walter Neibel)