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Shoot for the Contents
Co-produced by Jean-Paul Bourdier
Directed by Trinh T. Minh-ha
1991, 101 minutes, Color, 16mm/DVD
Order No. W99202
Reflecting on Mao’s famous saying, “Let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend,” Trinh T. Minh-ha’s film—whose title refers in part to a Chinese guessing game—is a unique excursion into the maze of allegorical naming and storytelling in China. The film ponders questions of power and change, politics and culture, as refracted by Tiananmen Square events. It offers at the same time an inquiry into the creative process of filmmaking, intricately layering Chinese popular songs and classical music, the sayings of Mao and Confucius, women’s voices and the words of artists, philosophers and other cultural workers. Video images emulate the gestures of calligraphy and contrast with film footage of rural China and stylized interviews. Like traditional Chinese opera, Trinh’s film unfolds through “bold omissions and minute depictions” to render “the real in the illusory and the illusory in the real.” Exploring color, rhythm and the changing relationship between ear and eye, this meditative documentary realizes on screen the shifts of interpretation in contemporary Chinese culture and politics.


  • Sundance, Best Cinematography
  • London Film Festival
  • Yamagata Film Festival, Japan
  • Rotterdam Film Festival
  • Sydney Film Festival
  • Melbourne Film Festival
  • Mannheim Film Festival
  • Films de Femmes, Créteil France
  • Asian American Film Festival

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    “Independent in thought and delicate in craftsmanship, strung with the tensile strength of a piano wire.”
    Karen Jaehne
    Film Comment

    “Poetic, lyrical, sensual, her work is densely textured and rich with breathtakingly beautiful images, elegant camera work and eloquent multi-layered soundtracks.”
    Susan Ditta

    “One of the most extraordinary documentaries of recent years….A beautiful and moving film, as challenging and stimulating formally as it is politically.”
    London Film Festival

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