The director spent weeks walking through the streets, courtyards and dilapidated flats of Beijing with his hand-held camera, taking a close look at the lives and everyday world of five artists living on the margins of society. On the one hand, long shots, empty spaces and, on the other, bizarre cinema vérite, homing in closely on its human subjects, as well as personal interventions in the style of Marcel Ophül. Bumming in Beijing offers a glimpse of China that would never have been tolerated in the past. Wu began filming shortly after the events at Tiananmen Square. The silence that is so striking at times is an implicit commentary on the destructive noise of the tanks at the square. It is no accident that four of the five artists portrayed here left their home country shortly afterwards. —Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Wu Wenguang (吴文光) was born in southwestern China’s Yunnan Province in 1956. After graduating from high school in 1974, Wu was sent to the countryside where he worked as a farmer for a year, and as an elementary school teacher for three years. Between 1978 and 1982, he studied Chinese Literature at Yunnan University. After Wu got his Bachelor’s degree, he went on to teach at a junior high school for three years. In 1985, he started working in television as a journalist for three years. Wu left television and moved to Beijing in 1988 to be an independent documentary filmmaker, freelance writer and creator and producer of the dance performance group Living Dance Studio. —Chinese Independent Documentary Archive
Bumming in Beijing is a title that wouldn't really work very well for a UK release. It sounds to my English ears like some sort of homophobic shock doc. I see that it's on YouTube, and I quite fancy watching it, but I just can't take it seriously with that title. Does it go by any others?