Gonzo is seldom the way to go in documentary, but there is a blithe prankishness and sweet-souled don’t-give-a-fuck to some, if not all, of Tanner King Barklow and Gil Kofman’s “Unmade in China,” which follows Kofman’s hiring to direct a cheap, slapdash thriller, in Chinese, in the Fujian city Xiamen, China and have it sanctioned by the strictures of local censorship. (The script for “Case Sensitive” was based on a famous Internet hoax.) Kofman doesn’t speak Chinese and says he doesn’t even like Chinese food. I don’t have a handy description to say what “Unmade in China” is on its own terms, following the stages of “unmaking” a movie the producers wanted an American director for, in name only, but it could handily wind up on a shelf that also holds “American Movie” and a good half-dozen other movies about movies about moviemakers falling on their face. Barklow has been a producer on Kirby Dick’s documentaries “Outrage” and “The Invisible War”; Kofman was a producer and editor on Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman’s “Derrida.” A best documentary winner at Sydney Underground, Edmonton International and the “Bloody Hero International Film Festival.” 90m. (Ray Pride)
“Unmade In China” opens Friday at Facets. The trailer is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.