Synopsis by Nathan Southern
With their nonfiction film Beijing Bubbles: Punk and Rock in China's Capital, a pair of neophyte directors - pop music journalist Susanne Messner and two-time documentarist George Lindt - filter a casual inside examination of the Chinese sociocultural landscape through the perspectives of five indigenous Chinese rock acts. The subjects at hand (who represent a bevy of subgenres within rock) espouse varying feelings about the limitations of life in contemporary Communist China, from cockeyed optimism to ambivalence to blazing discontent. These include: new wave players T9, who dream of staging a quiet rebellion by cutting themselves off entirely from Chinese culture; grunge rocker Bia Yuan (of Raucous Joyride), who cares little about the political situation, as long as it allows him to eat, drink and bed women; riot grrl act Hang on the Box, whose frontwoman claims that the schism between themselves and mainstream China fosters enhanced creative energies; and soft rock band Sha Zi, who take the filmmakers and the audience on a tour of Tianamen Square, reminisce about the 1989 demonstrations, and brand the country's Communist headquarters -- known as "The Great Hall of the People" -- as a crucible of lousy and misguided ideas. The fifth act, punk rockers New Pants, actually run an underground business that hawks pop culture merchandise, and claim that they could not exist (as rebels) without the Communist regime. Messner and Lindt de-emphasize background information about their subjects but interpolate brief clips from the musicians' gigs; they also do much to underscore the great chasm between the socioeconomic levels of the acts at hand and the majority of Chinese society, as well as the astonishing contrasts in music taste between those two groups.
Asian-studies, Communism, rock-music, world-music