Unmade in China

China, Art, Film & Film History, World Affairs
Tanner King Barklow and Gil Kofman
90 minutes


"It turns out there is a lesson in "Unmade in China" after all." - Kenneth Turan, LA Times

"Unmade in China is nominally about filmmaking, but what Kofman and Barklow do well is to use their unusual position within the Chinese state machine to make a thinly veiled movie about politics." -NPR

"Essentially a 'this American Life'-styled comedy of errors... It's great fun." -Chicago Tribune

"A funny, engaging, and simultaneously insider and outsider look at the compromises placed on creativity and art in a traditionally controlling system. " -What(not)to doc

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Unmade in China – follows the experience of a Los Angeles filmmaker who finds himself in Xiamen, China trying to direct a thriller, in Chinese, using a translator. He soon discovers that the old adage of making a film three times – in the writing, shooting, and editing – is in fact the opposite in China, where his film is “unmade” three times - in the writing, shooting, and editing - with each subsequent stage of the process even more excruciating and devastating than the one that came before it.

Determined however to make his film happen, even under the most adverse conditions, the eager filmmaker can’t even begin to imagine the complications of making a government sanctioned film in Communist China.

At first compromises are decorously made and he must ‘sell’ himself on the fact that these changes are mandated by cultural imperatives or differences delineating east and west. But this notion of civil disparity is quickly disabused as lead actors are clandestinely recast in the middle of the night. And money is often withheld, as the filmmaker’s script is literally hijacked and rewritten without consultation. At length the filmmaker takes a stand and boycotts the shoot, but even this is short lived.

Fortunately, the Los Angeles filmmaker is accompanied for most of his Sino-Sisyphean journey by fellow documentarian and close friend, Tanner King Barklow (producer on Outrage and Invisible War) who intimately records the absurd lunacy that prevails. What results is an hilarious documentary of an overeager American striving to make art in a Communist regime that is itself unsure of its identity.

Aside from a fun and frivolous tale that documents the trials and tribulations of an Angeleno making a film in China, this is also a cautionary tale, redolent with political resonance, about what compromises an artist suffers in order to make their work, and the measures he or she must take in order to sometimes right a wrong.


Tanner King Barklow - graduated with a BA in Film and Literature from Bennington College and then attended graduate studies for film and studio art at Harvard University.

He was nominated for an Emmy for his work as co-producer for the documentary feature – OUTRAGE - directed by Academy Award nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick. OUTRAGE premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and was then distributed by Magnolia Pictures, as well as playing on HBO.

This year, Tanner produced INVISIBLE WAR (2012) - winner of the Sundance Jury Award.

Currently, Tanner’s screenplay DOUBLE-O HOMO is being developed by Helios Productions. And he is in the process of producing two new documentaries with Kirby Dick.

He and Gil are planning a shoot in Israel this summer, and are putting together a project on the life of Rainer Fassbinder, called – RWF: Terror of Dreams Come True.

Gil Kofman – was born in Nigeria and raised in Kenya, Israel, and NYC. He received an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama.

His play American Magic, a dark political satire, was produced in NY, LA, and London with music by Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth and Richard Foreman playing the part of the President, and was later published by Broadway Play Publishing - along with two other plays Interview and Pharmacopeia. His play, Entrivista 187, won a LA Dramalogue Award and was later produced at the Dallas Theater Center.

Gil has also helped produce, edit and shoot the Sundance (2002) award winning documentary – DERRIDA. His film, THE MEMORY THIEF, which he wrote and directed, won the Feature Award at the 21st Edmonton Int’l Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at the Red Rock Film Festival. The New York Times called it “morally audacious and intriguingly original.” www.memorythiefmovie.com

He co-edited and acted in YOU WONT MISS ME (Sundance 2009) which won a Gotham Award and played at various festivals throughout the world including SXSW.

In 2010 he directed and edited a feature thriller in main land China, called – CASE SENSITIVE - that was developed at the Sundance Producer’s Lab – and got a wide release in China in June 2011. He’s currently at work on a film about Rainer Werner Fassbinder with Tanner King Barklow called – RWF: The Terror of Dreams Come True.


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