Welcome to the website of Australian writer, journalist and academic Dr. Dan Edwards. This site features examples of Dan's work from the wide variety of publications he has written for. Whenever possible links have been provided so articles can be viewed in their original context.
Dan is currently a fellow with the Research Unit in Public Cultures at the University of Melbourne in Australia. He completed his PhD on China's independent documentary movement at Monash University in December 2014, and in May 2015 published his first book, Chinese Independent Documentary: Alternative Visions, Alternative Publics through Edinburgh University Press in May 2015.
In his journalism, Dan mainly focuses on politics and arts-related topics. From 2007-2011 he lived in China's capital Beijing, and was the web editor for The Beijinger and the China correspondent for New Matilda, an Australian online publication featuring news and analysis of current affairs. He is a regular contributor to RealTime, Australia's only free national arts magazine. His work has also appeared in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Crikey, The Diplomat, Inside Film, Screen Hub, Senses of Cinema, Meanjin, Metro Magazine, The Beijinger, Time Out Beijing and China Today.
Dan curated the Street Level Visions program of Chinese documentaries for the 2012 Melbourne International Film Festival.
Before living in China, Dan was the managing editor of the Australian Film Commission's Communications Branch. He also formerly taught Film Studies at the University of New South Wales and from 2003 to 2005 was the assistant editor of RealTime.
All written content on this site is copyright Dan Edwards. Please contact the author for permission to reproduce any of this material. Feedback and comments are also welcome.
Check out my blog, Screening China, featuring news an commentary about China's independent film sector.
Modern Day Wuxia, public lecture, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 23 February 2015
A public lecture delivered before a screening of Wong Karwai's The Grandmaster, examining the origins of Chinese wuxia martial arts cinema in Chinese literature, and tracing its development through mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwanese cinema over the past century.
The Art of Dissent, panel as part of the "China Up Close Program" at Australian Centre for the Moving Image, 13 February 2015
In February 2015, Dan appeared on a panel following a screening of Alison Klayman's documentary "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry" at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, as part of the centre's China Up Close program. Apart from Dan Edwards, the artist/curator Tammy Wong, Gallery 4A Director Aaron Seeto, and artist Scot Rankin also appeared on the panel.
Recent articles by Dan Edwards
300 million clicks: Under the Dome and the Chinese Documentary Context, Senses of Cinema 76 (September 2015)
A peer-reviewed article that considers the documentary context from which the online film Under the Dome (Qiongding zhixia, 2015) emerged. This film on China's chronic air pollution, by investigative journalist Chai Jing, went viral when it was released online in early 2015, attracting over 300 million clicks before it was systematically removed from sites inside China's Great Firewall. This article argues that, in addition to foreign influences such as An Inconvenient Truth, Chai's film draws on a long history of expository documentary work in China, as well as a more recent lineage of activist documentaries built around the personalised, embodied voice of the filmmaker.
Killer Contrite in a Heartbeat, RealTime, 128, August-September 2015
An article considering the implications of The Look of Silence, the follow-up to The Act of Killing (2012), by Joshua Oppenheimer. Like Oppenheimer's earlier film, The Look of Silence examines the mass killing of "communists" (a category that included everyone from Communist Party members to trade unionists to ethnic Chinese) in mid-60s Indonesia. This time, Oppenheimer focuses on the brother of one of the victims, and his present-day interactions with his sibling's killers.
Documenting Problems or Documentary as Problem, Realtime 127, June-July 2015
A review of the documentary We Come As Friends by Hubert Sauper about the world's ongoing neo-colonial relationship with Africa. The article asks, however, whether documentaries like Sauper's aren't part of the problem when it comes to the exploitation and objectification of Africa and its people.
Framing the Heavy Weight of History: Yellow Earth, Senses of Cinema 74, May 2015
A short critical appreciation of Chen Kaige's seminal film Yellow Earth, a work often credited with launching China's Fifth Generation. Part of Senses of Cinema's "Cinematheque Annotations on Film" in conjunction with the Melbourne Cinematheque.
On Class and Development, RealTime 126, April-May 2015
A review of JP Sniadecki’s intimate and experimental The Iron Ministry, a documentary about life on China’s vast, crowded rail network.
Looking At/ Looking in Antonioni's Chung kuo, Cina: A Critical Reflection Across Three Viewings, Senses of Cinema 74, March 2015
This article traces my response to Antonioni's 1972 documentary Chung Kuo, Cina across three viewings: before I ever visited China, while living in Beijing, and at the time of writing. I consider not only my own varying relationship to the film, but also some of the different responses the film has provoked since its release, both in China and the West.