Bumming in Beijing: The Last Dreamers

Bumming in Beijing: The Last Dreamers ★★★½

"I don't take it that seriously."

Proto 6th Generation, really, in that the political dimensions are less insisted upon -- these artists aren't necessarily subversive, they're just struggling, and during a two-year period that happens to sandwich the Tiananmen Square protests (the tragedy that came of which is never explicitly mentioned, though a 1989 song by "angry youth" symbol Cui Jian and a scene of a woman crying that's never explained may be coded allusions). Wu's unaffected 'document' is as pure in its portrayal as the American and European "direct cinema" movements of the 1960s; it represents the founding work of independent Chinese documentary, and its prevailing theme of a marginalized social class defined the nation's evolving underground cinema over the next decade and a half.

"I just want to start a fire."

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