IOW: Films inspire Chinese RSO

We admit it. C-U Blogfidential is predisposed to giving the student-run Illini Film & Video (IFV) clan at the University of Illinois all the love. (Can you believe their 20th anniversary is in a few short years, Michael Stone and Andrew McAllister?) Opposite their historical durability, many a video-making club or film appreciation group have vanished into the campus ether with relative ease, launched by well-meaning undergraduates who leave the barest of evidence behind. We do hope the members of a relatively new registered student organization (RSO) at UIUC can change that unfortunate pattern and build themselves a lasting presence as well as provide its participants a healthy alternative that can coexist alongside IFV!

Started in 2012 by dedicated international students with help from Kunyang He, an independent film director recently moved to Champaign-Urbana from China, and Michael Kozuchowski, then enrolled in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and president of IFV, the Chinese Independent Film Society (CIFS) is “dedicated to screening independent films on social changes with local discussions and offering support of critical/creative projects on [the] UIUC campus” per their mission statement. Details gathered from their RSO Web page, Facebook, and downloadable PVC Movie Newsletter paint a picture of quite diligent members with camaraderie; activities have included hosting more than 30 film viewings and producing at least one documentary and narrative each per school year. The most recent piece, a 25-minute-long romantic drama called THE PEOPLE WE LOVE written and directed by He, was shown in the Armory 101 lecture hall on Friday, September 4, to kick off their year.

Understandably, much CIFS work seems to address issues of personal and cultural identity such as the process of adapting (or not) to life in the United States or the struggle to reconcile (or not) with changes affecting their families and communities at home. Click on the PVC Newsletter graphic below and their most recent issue from March 2015 will pop open as a PDF. On the front page, you will easily find several live links to streaming video of the various projects including ON OVERSEAS CHINESE STUDENTS, in which UI students and staff compare their educational experiences in both countries, and FOUR UNIVERSITIES IN CHINA, subverting the “coming to America” trope by interviewing native and international students about their studies at these institutions, all on Chinese soil. XU, A FACETIOUS CHINESE and XU’S LITTLE LOVER, long-form comedies of error developed by He for CIFS in the vein of Woody Allen, can be accessed at his YouTube channel along with the rest.

Current students with Asian and Pacific heritage and an interest in movies should write CIFS at uiuccifs [at] gmail [dot] com for more information or to be placed on their Mailing List. Current students of all ethnic or cultural backgrounds might possibly take a cue from this collaborative Society in formulating their own through which to express their stories and concerns for camera. IFV would surely love some cinematic company in the otherwise highly crowded RSO field at the university.

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. While little copy in their newsletters is written in English, particularly from the 2014-15 school year, you can find pictures scattered throughout of their filmmaking efforts as well as He’s exceptional artwork of street scenes in China. “Very pretty,” says our humble editor of the latter in admiration and jealousy.

p.s.2 Do you realize how proud we are of CIFS for publishing 14 newsletters to date? Newsletters! Do you?!?

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