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Beyond Asian? Beyond cinema? Intermediality, the performative and the cosmopolitan in the recent documentary films of Evans Chan

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In Evans Chan’s latest documentary Datong: the Great Society (2011) on the life of would-be Qing Dynasty reformer Kang Youwei and his daughter Kang Tongbi in China, the United States and in exile in Sweden the device of theatrical performance is foregrounded, as it has often been in other documentary films by Chan. To those less familiar with Chan’s signature style the decision to employ stage actors rather than film actors, and to eschew the typical drama-documentary’s recourse to mimetic pictorial realism can defamiliarize. In this essay it will be argued that the notions of performance and theatricality that permeate much of this auteur director’s work, are congruent with both his film-making aesthetic and his intellectual pre-occupations.
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Keywords: documentary; form and reform; intermediality; performance; theatricality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Lingnan University

Publication date: October 1, 2014

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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