New Documentary Movement is an important part of the history of documentary film in China. Following a long period of politically controlled media production, the late 1980s saw the emergence of first Chinese independent documentaries. A group of young filmmakers, led by Wu Wenguang, Duan Jinchuan and Jiang Yue as the most prominent authors, declared financial and ideological independence from the State. With borrowed cameras and fresh ideas they spontaneously started a documentary movement that redefined the term “documentary” in China. Heavily influenced by authors and principles of cinema vérite and direct cinema, they turned the cameras towards ordinary people, marginalized social groups and public institutions. They worked towards a social identification with the subjects they portrayed, yet tried to maintain their own interpretative positions. Tired of political propaganda, the filmmakers have strived to uncover the reality of Chinese society. The majority of documentary works made at the time never reached domestic audiences since public screenings of films, which were not approved by the Chinese authorities, were strictly forbidden. Nevertheless, New Documentary Movement succeeded in setting the values and principles for present day documentary filmmaking in China.

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