Through a Lens: Exploring Contemporary China Through Film, Documentary and Social Media

Journey all across China without the stress of packing, buying a transpacific ticket, jet-lag – not to mention travel restrictions. You will not have to worry about figuring out the Beijing subway system or standing in long lines to see Xian’s terra cotta soldiers.

We will watch/discuss a new group of films and explore corresponding contemporary social issues. We will travel to China without leaving our seats. While the geography, culture, economics, politics, religions and philosophies of China seem more than an ocean away, Chinese documentaries, films, and social media can make this complex country—with its long history and mind-boggling present—more accessible to you and your students. Together we will grapple with the complex issues of globalization, environmental concerns, migrant labor, urban demolition/urban construction, China’s changing rural landscape, the generation gap, human rights, political and economic reform.

We will not only share films and clips from a wide variety of documentaries and films, but also lesson plans/discussion ideas that correspond with these films.

Educators will receive an online resource packet that includes an annotated list of documentaries and films for classroom use with guiding questions and lesson plans. Our goal is to assist educators at all levels in finding documentaries/films for learning and teaching about China.

Participants are expected to watch designated films on their own and then attend four mandatory Zoom sessions (2 hours each) to discuss the film/corresponding resources and share teaching ideas, and will receive resources and a stipend to cover the film rentals or streaming fees.

This seminar will be led by Tese Wintz Neighbor.