This year’s COB Spectrum draws a China of remarkable plurality. Sounds, images and textures of the borderlands and social margins come to the fore. Stories are as powerfully voiced from the Tibetan highlands, refugee camps or uninhabited “ghost towns” as from the coastal big cities. One will as likely find Beijing filtered through Hohhot memories as Inner Mongolia, or the strait of water between colonial Hong Kong and Guangdong as historical noir lens.
Some of the 2016 slate were made within the imperatives of China’s vastly expanding and internationalizing entertainment industry, yet transform industry imperative with poetry and grace. Others engage more explicitly as works of art, yet bring no less urgency or acuity in their interrogation of pressing societal concerns.