Outsourcing Cinema in Unmade in China


Outsourcing to China has long been standard practice for American industries looking for cheaper labor and overhead costs, but with the country’s film industry burgeoning like never before, could cinema become the latest free-trade frontier? Such is the question that Tanner King Barklow and Gil Kofman’s doc Unmade in China explores, via the latter’s experience shooting his thriller Case Sensitive in the country with an all-Chinese cast and crew. A tale of comic absurdity, Unmade details both the severe cultural differences and the sense of paranoia on the set that make filming a near impossibility. The director becomes increasingly frustrated as his screenplay goes through seven rewrites by a Chinese script doctor, each more incomprehensible than the last, and the producer withholds payment. When the cameras finally do start rolling, things go much more smoothly, only for Kofman to find himself unmade again in the editing room as the Chinese cutters turn out a print he can’t make sense of. All of this could be very funny, but while the film does deliver some strong comic turns, far too much time is spent watching an inactive Kofman whining about his lot, while cutting to a later stateside Q&A in which the filmmaker smugly dismisses the Chinese way of doing things.