Dreaming of Van Gogh

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Until 1989, the village of Dafen in the city of Shenzhen, China was little more than a hamlet. It now has a population of 10,000, including hundreds of peasants-turned oil painters. In the many studios, and even in the alleyways, Dafen’s painters turn out thousands of replicas of world-famous Western paintings. Nobody thinks anything of an order for 200 Van Goghs. To meet their deadlines, painters sleep on the floor between clotheslines strung with masterpieces. In 2015, the turnover in painting sales was over $65 million. Directors Haibo and Kiki Tianqi Yu followed one of the painters, Xiaoyong Zhao. He and his family have painted around 100,000 Van Goghs. After all these years, Zhao feels a deep affinity with Van Gogh. He traveled to Europe to see the original works at the Van Gogh Museum, and to visit one of his best clients, an Amsterdam art dealer. This debut film is a fascinating, at times picturesque portrait of a village where artists pursue their dreams, but also have them shattered.

Director Yu Haibo / Kiki Tianqi Yu
Location China
Duration 28 min.
Genre Art / Life / Human Interest
Air Date (JST) Monday, January 16, 2017

About Director

Yu Haibo

Yu Haibo

Biography

Haibo Yu is a filmmaker and a well-known Chinese social photographer, the Chief Photo Editor of Shenzhen Economic Daily and the Director of Shenzhen Professional Photographers Association. His most prominent photo story China Dafen Oil Painting Village won the 49th World Press Photography Contest 2006, and was collected by San Francisco Modern Art Museum, V&A Museum, London. Yu is the pioneer in surrealism photography in China for his work “on the other riverside of the illusion chain” which won the top prize at the 15th National Photography Exhibition in 1988. Since 1989, he has been working on documentary photography, and his photo stories including “Tibet”, “Music Youth”, “China’s urban expansion”, have won many prizes and been exhibited internationally. Yu published a book Living in China’s Shenzhen (2008), and a photo-essay film One Man’s Shenzhen (2012).

Filmography

2016 Dreaming of Van Gogh (Feature documentary film)
2012 One Man’s Shenzhen (Photo-essay film)

Kiki Tianqi Yu

Kiki Tianqi Yu

Biography

Kiki Tianqi Yu is a filmmaker and Associate Professor in Film and Screen Studies, USC-SJTU Institute of Cultural and Creative Industry, based at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. YU received an MPhil in Sociology from the University of Cambridge, UK, and a PhD from the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media, the University of Westminster, UK. She publishes on first person documentary, amateur cinema, Chinese documentary, camera activism, and cinematic memory in Studies in Documentary Film, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, and Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, among others. She is the co-editor of China’s iGeneration: Cinema and Moving Image Culture for Twenty-first Century(Bloomsbury, 2014) and the author of the forthcoming monograph ‘My’ Self on Camera (Edinburgh University Press, 2017).

Filmography

2016 Dreaming of Van Gogh (Feature documentary film)
2009 Memory of Home (Exhibition film)
2007 Photographing Shenzhen (Discovery Channel)

  • Directors’ Interview

    03'15"

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