Study Report of the Development of Chinese Documentary in 2016
On April 17, 2016, the Study Report of the Development of Chinese Documentary in 2016 was released at a conference in the National Library. The conference was jointly sponsored by Documentary Center of Beijing Normal University and Beijing International Documentary Center. The host was Professor Hu Zhifeng from Communication University of China. Director of Documentary Center of Beijing Normal University Zhang Tongdao who led the study made a summary on the development of documentary film industry in 2015.
Professor Hu Zhifeng from Communication University of China as the host
The World’s Major Documentary Broadcasters and Producers Got New Leaders to Make a Change;
A Satellite System to Broadcast Documentary Programs Has Basically Been Created in China.
According to the report, the world’s documentary industry is undergoing great changes. The public system is in a dilemma while the commercial system is faced with reforms. Major documentary broadcasters and producers underwent changes in leadership and entered a new period of reform and adjustment, such as BBC in UK, NHK in Japan, and Discovery Channel and NGC in the US. In June 2015, Golden Eagle Documentary Channel was permitted to broadcast its programs from satellites and became the fourth professional documentary satellite channel after Documentary Channel of CCTV, Documentary Channel of BTV, and Documentary Channel of Shanghai TV. A satellite system to broadcast documentary programs has basically been created in China. Documentary channels start to focus on brand building and core competitiveness.
The survey suggests that the total investment in the documentary film industry in 2015 is up to 3.024 billion yuan, while the total revenue has increased sharply to 4.679 billion yuan. Provincial satellite TVs, private companies, and commercial video websites are increasing investment in the documentary industry. In 2015, a total length of 76400 hours of documentary programs have been broadcast on professional documentary channels as well as satellite channels, increased by 0.8% compared with the last year. The total length of debut documentary programs in 2015 is about 24000 hours, increased by 3.9% and accounting for 32% of the whole. With the upward momentum coming to an end, the documentary industry enters a stage of fine production.
Documentary Reality Shows Surged While Documentary Films Test the Waters at the Cinema
The year of 2015 sees a surge in documentary films. Survivor Games, jointly produced by the Documentary Channel of Shanghai TV and the Discovery Channel, has been played online for nearly 400 million times in 2015 and becomes a big success. Documentary reality shows surged in 2015, including We Are Young by LIC CHINA, Dream Maker by Beijing Yuanchun Media Co. Ltd., Where I’m Coming From by CCTV, Yadi Running the World by BTV Documentary Channel, and Challenge the Chinese Juveniles by Golden Eagle Documentary Channel.
Documentary films like Mr. Deng Goes to Washington and Himalaya: Ladder to Paradise were played in the cinema and earned 17 million and 11.5 million yuan at the box office respectively, which was regarded as an active effort to test the market of movie theaters.
A Group Photo of the Research Staff and the Receiver of the Book
New Media Documentaries Surged in 2015
New media becomes a new force worthy of attention. By 2015, the number of network video users in China has reached 504 million, while the online video advertising industry is worth 24.79 billion yuan. “Internet Plus” has become part of China’s national strategy. “Doc China” has made new efforts to combine documentary programs with the Internet so as to build an industry platform through resource integration. According to the research team’s incomplete statistics, there are more than 9 Chinese documentary films that generate over 100 million page views over the last two years, among which A Bite of China Season 2 is on top of the list with 439 million accumulative page views. Meanwhile, Under the Dome, as a landmark case in the new media industry, generates over 300 million page views in only one week, which indicates that the new media can make the phenomenal event possible.
Eco-Documentaries Held Themselves to a Much Higher Standard and Received Great Attention Once Again
Ecological crisis has become increasingly severe in recent years. In 2015, a number of documentaries focus on ecological problems and show concerns about the future of our planet. David Attenborough, known as the “father of nature documentary”, captures the dramatic moment of hunting in his new production entitled Hunt, including lots of incredible scenes that are rarely seen ever before. Luc Jacquet, Director of March of the Penguins, reveals his new work Ice and the Sky, which has been chosen as the closing film at the Cannes Film Festival.
Zhang Tongdao, Director of Documentary Center of Beijing Normal University, addressed the meeting.
Documentaries to Commemorate the 70th Anniversary of World Anti-Fascist War Became the Main Focus of the Year
2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Many documentaries have been produced to trace, restore, and reflect on the catastrophic war. In 2015, documentaries to commemorate the 70th anniversary of World Anti-Fascist War not only review this history, but also represent the real world. World War Two: 1945 & the Wheelchair President broadcast by BBC elaborates on the historic contributions made by former US President Franklin Roosevelt. One Day in Auschwitz by Documentary Channel involves memories of the survivors and discussions on the rise of the Nazi Party as well as a panoramic view of the war. China’s panorama documentaries include Oriental Main Battlefield, Scourge: Full Documentary of the Second World War, and Great Contributions. Special documentaries include Behind the Front-line, Truth Confessions of Japanese War Criminals, and The 1946 Trial of Nanjing Massacre. In general, Chinese documentaries on the Second World War center around accusing the Japanese of war crimes and reflecting the Chinese people’s fighting against the invaders, especially the leading role of the Chinese Communist Party. Japan’s NHK also chooses the commemoration of the 70th anniversary as the theme of 2015. The seven-episode documentary series entitled The Portrait of Japan: 70 Years Since the end of World War II is regarded as the most important one as it explores the social impact of war and expresses people’s longing for peace. However, Japanese documentaries tend to make Japan seen as a victim. For instance, two documentaries on atomic bombing of Hiroshima have been produced to show what Japan suffers from the war.
The Stories of China Are Widely Told by the International Media
Since 2015, a large number of documentaries about China have been broadcast on mainstream media worldwide, which include The Story of China, Chinese New Year: The Biggest Celebration, and Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School by BBC, How China Works by Discovery Channel, and China From Above by NGC. Most of these documentaries try to objectively foster a positive image of China. In particular, Super China presented by KBS enthusiastically lavishes praise on China and demonstrate a rising power in all-round way, with the word “hegemony” used frequently. While programs on NHK seem to pay more attention to China’s social problems, such as the plunging stock price and manufacturing decline.
A Collection of Works By Zhang Tongdao presented to the attendance
The Documentary Center of Beijing Normal University is 10 Years Old
As 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of Documentary Center of Beijing Normal University, two special events were held, including the presentation of a series of books about documentary published by Documentary Center and China Radio Film & TV Press and the releasing of A Collection of Works By Zhang Tongdao which involves over 10 pieces of work, such as Lilliput, Les Histoires du jardin Bussière, and China From Cinema Eye. With more than one hundred years’ cultural traditions, Documentary Center of Beijing Normal University chooses teaching, research and creation as integral parts of its mission. In 2009, it published the first Documentary Blue Book in China. Meanwhile, this academic institution has created 15 documentary films, most of which are broadcast on CCTV.