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Microfilms are miniature films used for photographing objects and documents. The images on these films cannot be seen without some sort of an optical aid. The main advantages of a microfilm are relatively low cost, good image quality, long life and no requirement for for expensive viewing hardware. A Micro Film is short, low-budget film produced by independent producers that only a few ever see, right? Wrong! Or at least if you live in China.
Short, homemade “micro films” are so popular in China that people watch them in subways, buses or even while walking. Anyone with a smart phone can access a microfilm, and the availability of editing software available on laptops means that just about anyone can be produce a short movie and then upload their film on the Chinese equivalent of YouTube and other sites.
The reason these short, mostly amateur films are so popular in China is that they can avoid the strictly controlled and censored films by major studio shown in Chinese movie theatres. Chinese micro films offer more controversial topics dealing with gender and social issues, a definite “no-no” for the main stream and government controlled Chinese film industry.
Independent, mostly amateur microfilm producer/directors choose topics ranging from social commentary to sex and slapstick. Content alone, however, is not the real issue In a highly regulated and controlled society. Microfilms serves as a means for unsupervised individual creativity; as one commentator stated: “that by itself is relevant and important in a society like China”. In Other word, quality and content is less important than the fact that they are available at all.
Independent filmmakers have addressed controversial themes before in China, but those films are largely banned. This new generation of “micro films” are accessible and visible, and for the most part, independent and unregulated.