Zooming in on development of Chinese documentaries

Xu Wei
June 21, the Documentary Day of the 28th Shanghai TV Festival, brought together TV professionals and experts at a forum to discuss the innovative development of documentaries.
Xu Wei
Zooming in on development of Chinese documentaries
Ti Gong

TV industry professionals and experts talk about the future development of Chinese documentaries at a forum during the 28th Shanghai TV Festival.

Zooming in on development of Chinese documentaries
Ti Gong

Exchanges and documentary co-production with provincial broadcasting corporations in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces will be strengthened.

June 21, the "Documentary Day" of the 28th Shanghai TV Festival, brought together TV professionals and experts at a forum to discuss the innovative development of documentaries.

Liu Meiru, an official from the National Radio and Television Administration, said that documentaries in the new era should broaden horizons, and focus on and shoulder the responsibility of cultural inheritance.

"Documentary subjects can be widely explored from the country's rich cultural heritage, traditional festivals, cultural relics, ancient books, and many other aspects," Liu said. "Documentary filmmakers need to innovate their narrative expression with new technological means and deeply integrate the advantages of TV and the Internet to enhance their productions' appeal to young people."

Over the past decades, homegrown documentaries have rapidly developed in the city of Shanghai.

A number of excellent Shanghai-produced documentaries have emerged, including "Faith Makes Great," "Life Matters," and "Ten Years on the Road of Pursuing Dream."

Docu TV is also a professional documentary TV channel in the city.

Song Jiongming, president of the Shanghai Media Group, encouraged filmmakers to adhere to the people-centered concept and persist in the incubation and filming of high-quality works.

They will also strengthen exchanges and documentary co-production with provincial broadcasting corporations in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces to record the development of the Yangtze River Delta region.

Zooming in on development of Chinese documentaries
Ti Gong

Some foreign professionals share their experience in the international communication of documentaries.

Zooming in on development of Chinese documentaries
Ti Gong

British documentary filmmaker Arthur Jones speaks at the forum.

Veteran documentary filmmaker Xu Huan from the China Media Group said that new perspectives and storytelling approaches should be explored to tell "untold stories."

"To cater for the tastes of youngsters, we have also opened columns for short documentary videos and documentary films and interacted with audiences on both TV and streaming platforms," Xu added.

Industry insiders noted that domestic documentaries achieved high-quality development in the past decade. Last year, more than 90,000 hours of documentaries were produced in China, and over 1,000 documentaries were broadcast to audiences.

"However, we still lack creative productions that leave strong impressions on us," said Professor Zhang Tongdao from Beijing Normal University. "Documentaries need to make new changes and offer viewers thought-provoking and aesthetic experiences."

Zhang said that in addition to untold stories, filmmakers could also explore new dimensions and perspectives to tell an "old story," such as looking through the lens of the six Chinese people who were on the Titanic.

Professionals also shared their experience in the international communication of documentaries.

Zhang Yuan, a documentary chief producer of the streaming platform Bilibili, said that the platform had already made 122 documentaries, many of which were international co-productions. Outstanding documentaries had also been distributed to many countries around the world.

"Chinese documentaries of diverse subjects are gaining growing overseas popularity," Zhang said. "Among them, productions about Chinese food and the culinary culture are the most well-received."

Bilibili is also cooperating with BBC Studios to present interesting science documentaries, such as an in-depth interpretation of Liu Cixin's Hugo Award-winning sci-fi novel "The Three-Body Problem."

British documentary filmmaker Arthur Jones, an anchor of the acclaimed documentary series "China on the Move," encouraged filmmakers to stay curious in life and resonate with the audience through emotional connections.

Zooming in on development of Chinese documentaries
Ti Gong

The documentary-themed forum attracts veteran filmmakers from across the country.

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