Beyond Asian? Beyond cinema? Intermediality, the performative and the cosmopolitan in the recent documentary films of Evans Chan

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)


In Evans Chan's latest documentary Datong: the Great Society (2011) on the life of would-be Qing Dynasty reformer Kang Youwei and his daughter Kang Tongbi in China, the United States and in exile in Sweden the device of theatrical performance is foregrounded, as it has often been in other documentary films by Chan. To those less familiar with Chan's signature style the decision to employ stage actors rather than film actors, and to eschew the typical drama-documentary's recourse to mimetic pictorial realism can defamiliarize. In this essay it will be argued that the notions of performance and theatricality that permeate much of this auteur director's work, are congruent with both his film-making aesthetic and his intellectual pre-occupations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-152
Number of pages14
JournalAsian Cinema : A Publication of the Asian Cinema Studies Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014



  • documentary
  • form and reform
  • intermediality
  • performance
  • theatricality

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