Shoot for the Contents

Co-produced by Jean-Paul Bourdier Directed by Trinh T. Minh-ha

1991 | 101 minutes | Color | DVD | Order No. 99202

SYNOPSIS

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.

PRESS

“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

SCREENING HIGHLIGHTS AND AWARDS

  • London Film Festival
  • Sundance, Best Cinematography
  • 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

ABOUT FILMMAKER(S)

Trinh T. Minh-ha

TRINH T. MINH-HA
Born in Vietnam, Trinh T. Minh-ha is a filmmaker, writer and music composer. Her works include

Films: • WHAT ABOUT CHINA? (135 mins digital film, 2021), • FORGETTING VIETNAM (90 mins digital film, 2015), • NIGHT PASSAGE (98mins digital narrative film, 2004), • THE FOURTH DIMENSION (Japan, 87 mins digital film, 2001), • A TALE OF LOVE (108 mins 35mm narrative, 1995), • SHOOT FOR THE CONTENTS (China, 102 mins 16mm, 1991), • SURNAME VIET GIVEN NAME NAM (108 mins 16mm, 1989), • NAKED SPACES - LIVING IS ROUND (135 mins 16mm, 1985), and • REASSEMBLAGE (40 mins 16mm, 1982);
Books: including • Lovecidal. Walking with The Disappeared (2016), • D-Passage. The Digital Way (2013), • Elsewhere Within Here. Immigration, Refugeeism and The Boundary Event (2010); • The Digital Film Event (2005), • Cinema Interval (1999), • Framer Framed (1992), • When the Moon Waxes Red. Representation, Gender and Cultural politics (1991), Woman, Native, Other. Postcoloniality and Feminism (1989), • En minuscules (poems, 1987); and in collaboration with Jean-Paul Bourdier, • A World in Dwelling (2011), • Habiter un monde (Paris, 2006), • Drawn from African Dwelling (1996), •African Spaces - Designs for Living in Upper Volta (1985);
Large-scale multi-media installations: • “Nothing But Ways” (in coll. with LM Kirby, 1999, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco), • “The Desert is Watching” (2003, Kyoto Art Biennale), and • “L'Autre marche” (The Other Walk, 2006-2009 at Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, both in coll. with Jean-Paul Bourdier), • “Old Land New Waters”, Okinawa Fine Arts Museum (2007; 2009); Guangzhou Art Triennial in China (2008), Chechnya Emergency Biennale (2008), Le Quartier, Quimper, France ( 2016) , Museo Revoltella, Trieste, Italy (2018), and • “In Transit: Between and Beyond” (in coll. with LM Kirby, Manifesta 13, Marseille, France 2020).

The recipient of numerous awards and grants (including the 2014 Wild Dreamer Lifetime Achievement Award from the Subversive Festival in Zagreb, Croatia; the 2012 Women's Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award; the "Trailblazers" Award at MIPDOC, Cannes; AFI National Independent Filmmaker Maya Deren Award, her films have been honored in over 64 retrospectives-in Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Singapore, Korea, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Argentina, Croatia, Columbia, Mexico, Finland, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Slovenia, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, the UK, the US—and were exhibited at the international contemporary art exhibition Documenta 11 (2002) in Germany. They have shown widely in the States, in Canada, Senegal, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as in Europe and Asia. Reassemblage was initially exhibited at The New York Film Festival (1983) and has since then become a classic of critical ethnographic films. Naked Spaces received the Blue Ribbon Award for Best Experimental Feature at the American Int'l. Film Festival and the Golden Athena Award for Best Feature Documentary at the Athens International Film Festival in 1986; it toured nationally and internationally with the 1987 Biennial of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Surname Viet Given Name Nam has received the Film as Art Award from the Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art (SF Museum of Modern Art), the Blue Ribbon Award at the American Film and Video Festival, and the Merit Award from the Bombay International Film Festival. Shoot for the Contents won the Jury's Best Cinematography Award at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival and the Best Feature Documentary Award at the Athens International Film Festival, and toured internationally with the 1993 Biennale of the Whitney Museum. A Tale of Love showed internationally in over twenty-four film festivals, including Berlin and Toronto. The Fourth Dimension (Locarno, Viennale, Edinburg, London), Night Passage (UK, Austria, Spain, Japan, Korea, Shanghai) and Forgetting Vietnam (Cinéma du Réel, Paris; Copenhagen; Singapore; Taiwan; Sweden; Vancouver and Montreal, Canada etc.) continue to exhibit widely.

Trinh Minh-ha has traveled and lectured extensively on film, art, feminism, and cultural politics. She taught at the National Conservatory of Music in Dakar, Senegal (1977-80); at universities such as Cornell, San Francisco State, Smith, and Harvard, Ochanomizu (Tokyo), Ritsumeikan (Kyoto), Dongguk (Seoul); and is Professor of The Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley. (4/22)

Jean-Paul Bourdier

Jean-Paul Bourdier is a French born photographer of unique style, skilled passion and compelling imagination. His images balance across the nexus of multiple crafts – among them painting, poetry, and performance art. He is the author of "Leap into the Blue," and "Bodyscapes," (co -authored by Trinh T. Minh), and has won the Guggenheim, American Council of Learned Societies, NEA, Graham, UC President’s Humanities and Getty awards. He is also a Professor of Architecture, Photography and Visual Studies at UC Berkeley and has worked as a production designer for seven films, co - directing two with Trinh Minh. Bourdier. (01/20)

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