Somewhere in China
There's so much more to China than Western eyes usually see. Explore the country's giant interior in the footsteps of some of the early 20th century's more intrepid filmmakers.
China's vast interior remained largely unexplored and undocumented by British filmmakers well into the 20th century. The European concessions and colonies of the east coast - in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong - were an irresistible lure for western visitors. This is a journey into deep and distant China, through extraordinarily diverse landscapes: towering mountains, expansive deserts and along 3000-mile rivers stretching halfway across Asia. It's a record produced by intrepid explorers, missionaries and travellers, who brought portable home-movie cameras to document their holidays, anthropological studies, humanitarian work or evangelical activism. The films showcase China's remarkable ethnic diversity, meeting Mongol, Miao, Nosu, Uyghur and Manchu minorities on journeys from Kashgar to Inner Mongolia, around Hunan and Sichuan Provinces, and deep into mountainous Yunnan Province, where centuries-old methods of farming and hunting still prevailed. On the way cities too, still uninfluenced by encroaching western modernity: Kunming, Chongqing, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Changsha. But in all of China's vastness, it's not possible to identify the source of these fascinating images. So much is still unknown.
Travelogue19301 minsSilent Location: Chongqing
Life among the limpet-like buildings clinging to the steep banks of the Yangtze in southwest China.
Intimate vignettes of crafters, beggars and labourers in the workshops, on the streets and eating in the outdoor kitchens of imperial China.
This alluring travelogue follows a missionary on his colourful journey into the ethnically diverse mountains of Yunnan, south west China.
Rice Cultivation in the Si-kiang Delta, South ChinaRice Cultivation in the Si-kiang Delta, South China
An exceptionally detailed look at the process of rice cultivation, from planting to harvesting to pounding, in the Xi Jiang Delta, Guangdong Province.
Travelogue19252 minsSilent Location: Hangzhou
Enjoy a cruise along the ancient canals of Zhejiang Province in eastern China with this gorgeous stencil-coloured travelogue
The waterways of Imperial China are bursting with life in this French travelogue made in the final years of the Qing Dynasty.
Documentary19389 mins Location: Guangzhou
Harrowing footage of death and destruction in the aftermath of sustained Japanese bombing of the southern Chinese city.
Travelogue19025 minsSilent Location: Kunming
Five astonishing and intimate scenes recording the private lives of Kunming residents in the final years of China's Qing dynasty.
Amateur film19288 minsSilent Location: Kashgar
Actors in elaborate makeup and traditional costume - and a trained goat - perform for the camera in this rare glimpse of China’s westernmost city.
Travelogue193658 minsSilent Location: Guangzhou
An epic amateur travelogue of eastern China on the cusp of Japanese invasion, filmed by British writer Lady Dorothea Hosie.
Troops of infamous warlord General Tsung Chang occupy strategic points in Jiangsu Province on the eve of the Chinese Civil War.
Documentary19089 mins Location: Shanghai
Take a cruise through imperial China on the world's longest man-made waterway, the Grand Canal.
Amateur film194610 minsSilent Location: Shaoyang
Rare insight into the health work of Methodist missionaries in rural Shaoyang, Hunan Province, South Central China.
Amateur film193613 minsSilent Location: Guangzhou
A lively film showing the bustle of street and river traffic in Zhongshan, birthplace of China’s first president and founding father of the Republic.
Amateur film19265 minsSilent Location: Kashgar
Rare scenes of outdoor theatre, traditional dress and military pomp in China’s westernmost city.
Travelogue194650 minsSilent Location: Shaoyang
This engaging film documents the journey of a doctor sent by the Methodist Missionary Society across land and sea to rural Hunan Province.
Chinese farmers use pedal power to combat China's worst drought of the 20th century.
Non-Fiction19212 minsSilent Location: Fuzhou
Bustling, fluttering and swaying – wonderful visual details of daily life in a street in Fuzhou (then Foo-chow), Fujian Province in South East China.
Packing Pottery; Threshing; Camel Train - China C1932/33Packing Pottery; Threshing; Camel Train - China C1932/33
Amateur film19334 minsSilent Location: Shanghai
Enigmatic scenes shot by a retired British teacher touring China in the early 1930s.
Amateur film19324 minsSilent
Rural China seen through the lens of a British amateur filmmaker in the 1930s.
Town, Country & Seaside Life Round about Swatow ChaochowfuTown, Country & Seaside Life Round about Swatow Chaochowfu
Amateur film193511 minsSilent Location: Shantou
An inquisitive amateur filmmaker captures a fascinating portmanteau of local industries in China's Guangdong Province.
Travelogue193516 minsSilent Location: Shaoyang
Scenes in and around Shaoyang in South Central China are brought to life by mesmerising amateur photography.
Amateur film193515 minsSilent Location: Shaoyang
Religious rites and Christian activism in South Central China, seen through the eyes of Methodist missionaries.
Amateur film19404 minsSilent
Remarkable footage of a busy township market in a remote and impoverished area of north China seemingly untouched by the modern world.
Charity appeal19453 mins
Heart-rending British appeal film for funds to ease suffering of China's orphaned children and starving millions after Japanese invasion.
Amateur film194615 minsSilent Location: Changsha
Home-movie footage of Methodist missionaries at work and prayer opens an intriguing window onto Chinese church life in Hunan Province.