A documentary two UCLA professors produced about one of Shanghai’s most renowned performers and teachers of China’s traditional bamboo flutes has been honored at the Chinese Ethnographic Film Festival and International Music Ethnographic Film Exhibition.
“Playing the Flute in Shanghai: the Musical Life of Dai Shuhong,” which was created by Helen Rees, UCLA professor of ethnomusicology, and professional documentary filmmaker Aparna Sharma, associate professor of world arts and cultures, received the Biographical Documentary Award at the festival.
Rees began studying Chinese flutes under Dai in the late 1980s and continues to count herself among his students.
Shot between 2016 and 2017 in Shanghai, the documentary focuses on Dai’s artistry and pedagogical skill in addition to his firsthand experience of the seismic upheavals in Chinese musical life since the 1950s.
Rees is director of the World Music Center in the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Her research has focused on local musical traditions in southwest China and Shanghai, as well as cultural heritage policies in East Asia more broadly. At UCLA, she has developed care and management policies for UCLA’s World Musical Instrument Collection. Sharma is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and film theorist whose films focus on communities that have been displaced in India, in particular in the northeast part of the country.
The award was officially presented on Nov. 4 in Shanghai, China, and was received on behalf of the team by Dai.