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Independent Chinese Cinema: Filming in the "Space of the People"

Filming Power and the Powerless

Zhao Liang’s Crime and Punishment(2007) and Petition(2009)
Jie Li


This article discusses two recent works by emerging documentary auteur Zhao Liang, Crime and Punishment(2007) and Petition(2009). These penetrating observations of state-society relations in contemporary China render visible those who are un(der)represented, critique the deception of mass media images, and show the various complex ways in which power is connected to surveillance and visibility. Thus the filmmaker, his camera, and the spectators are implicated in power relationships as we cast voyeuristic, panoptic, activist, empathetic, or critical gazes upon the representatives of state power and upon the disenfranchised.

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Electronic reference

Jie Li, “Filming Power and the Powerless”China Perspectives [Online], 2010/1 | 2010, Online since 01 April 2013, connection on 24 March 2023. URL:; DOI:

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Jie Li

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