Originally I planned to shoot my feature documentary "Americaville" over a 3 month period last summer, while living in the Chinese replica of Jackson Hole, Wyoming on the outskirts of Beijing. Upon receiving feedback after presenting a trailer of the film at the Peterhouse Graduate Symposium 2015 in Cambridge, UK and at GZDocs 2015 in Guangzhou, China, I decided to continue shooting. In December 2015, The New York Times published an article about the replica of Jackson Hole. The story was picked up by the Chinese state media, which widely criticised the residents of the town for being unpatriotic. Here is the original NY Times article.
I returned to shoot in Jackson Hole over Christmas 2015 and Easter 2016 to capture the reaction of the townspeople to losing the ability of defining themselves on their own terms. This criticism they received had a profound affect on the general mood of the town, but my main character Liu Hua seemed initially undisturbed and intent on continuing to live her dream life in Jackson Hole. The two shoot trips were made possible by the support of the Bruckmann Trust.
Above left: The Jackson Hole Children's Choir organise themselves to performs carols on Christmas Eve in the Jackson Hole church.
Above right: Some of my documentary characters enjoy Christmas dinner at Liu Hua's home.
Above: Liu Hua prepares a cake for her husband over Easter.
Above: My interns QiYuan and KeHui from the Beijing Film Academy during the Easter shoot.
I attended Sheffield Doc Fest 2016 to pitch my film to the Whicker's World Foundation. I walked away with the runner-up funder award, while "Burma's Lost Royals" won the 80k grant. The grant will allow me to continue shooting for the rest of the year.
We enjoyed a great run of screening throughout the spring, ranging from film festivals to art gallery screenings. We screened in Beijing, Moscow, Philadelphia, Rotterdam, Wroclaw, Tartu, Copenhagen, Brussels, Washington DC, Budapest, Peterborough, and Tallinn.
Above: Taking audience questions at Budapest Architecture Film Days.
Above: The introduction to our screening at the Millennium International Documentary Film Festival in Brussels, Belgium.
Above: We screened at the Copenhagen Architecture Festival alongside the great new documentary, "Chinese Dreamland".
Above: "The Land of Many Palaces" picked up the Best Directing award at the Moscow International Documentary Film Festival.
Above: We screened at the beautiful Kumu Art Museum in Tallinn, Estonia.
The blog for documentary filmmaker, Adam James Smith.