MIFF review: 10 conditions of love

26 Jul

Genre: documentary

Incredible. Glad to say my first film at miff this year is a must see.

A moving portrait of an inspirational figure and a topic most of us don’t know about, but really should. This film stands as searing indictment of China’s ‘liberation’ East Turkistan (an area now known as Xinjiang, ‘New Territory’), it’s brutal repression of a democratic voice in the region, and Rabiya Kadeer’s extreme bravery and determination in the face of powerful opposition. None of our lives match the integrity, intelligence and passion shown by this extraordinary figure.  Well maybe there are a few of you out there, but I certainly don’t. It’s always a humbling experience seeing what one life can achieve, and Jeff Daniels’s film has me re-evaluating what I am going to commit myself to at the end of my degree.

All 380 seats of the Sunday night session were sold out, in part due to the publicity given by China’s attempts to have the film withdrawn.

Great Q & A with Dir: Jeff Daniels, Prod: John Lewis, Dennis Smith

Great Q & A with Dir: Jeff Daniels, Prod: John Lewis, Dennis Smith

Score: ****

Ronan MacEwan

Other MIFF reviews:


North (Nord)

The Girlfriend Experience



11 Responses to “MIFF review: 10 conditions of love”

  1. Tim July 26, 2009 at 9:02 pm #

    I’d have to say I disagree on ’10 Conditions’ being a must see.
    Though certainly, the oppression the Uighur people have faced/are facing is an issue that should be more widely heard, I don’t feel this documentary gives us the bigger picture the issue deserves. Rabiya Kadeer is clearly a strong and fascinating woman, and choosing her to be the central point on which the film works from is great. But given the complexity of Chinese nationalism as we’ve seen in this years festival and last year when Tibet became an issue at the commonwealth games I felt a little insulted that the movie seemed to represent the Chinese government as an omnipresent force, and that all those who support the Chinese government line are bad people. Never giving any more depth to the opposing augmenters motivations shows a lack of objectivity and essentially bias.

    With Kadeer’s own daughter essentially contradicting her mother on camera saying that she did not choose to stand against the Chinese government being a thread I really wanted to see teased out, but it wasn’t, and to me felt like another sign of the documentary lacking any form of objectivity.
    The director has said that he sought the government’s response but they were never forthcoming but for a documentary, I don’t think that’s good enough, you have to dig deeper whether your subject is willing or not. If they wont make their own arguments, you have to do it for them (and then knock them down if you can).

    In my opinion, by all means you can make a documentary with an agenda, but if you don’t take the time to look at things from your opponents point of view and critique your own argument, you’re setting yourself up to fail, which for me this documentary ultimately did.

    As an afterthought, I’d add that I found the interviews could have done with a little more technical expertise (specifically framing). This wouldn’t even have been an issue for me if I hadn’t felt slighted by the way the documentary made its case.

  2. Emma July 27, 2009 at 6:20 am #

    the ABC have done their own Uighur doco, it’s on Foreign Correspondent on Tuesday. I guess they just wanted to do it their own way…?

  3. Ronan Macewan July 27, 2009 at 6:30 am #

    sounds a bit like this debacle:

  4. Ronan Macewan July 27, 2009 at 6:48 am #

    They are all good points Tim, perhaps we will see more of the chinese side in the new ABC doco?

    I personally really connected with this documentary, more with one womens struggle than a completely informative piece about a (seemingly?) exploited people by an expansionist neighbour.

    She seems so devoid of ego, and i really respect that.

  5. Jemila July 27, 2009 at 8:40 am #

    why did you only give it 3 and a half starts?

  6. Ronan Macewan July 27, 2009 at 9:20 am #

    there are 4 starts there!
    whaddya dalkin about?

  7. Jemila July 27, 2009 at 10:34 am #

    I can only see 3 and a half

  8. Sarah July 27, 2009 at 10:47 am #

    Tim: The filmmaker has openly admitted that the film could be perceived to be biased. But you can only work with the material you’re actually able to gather. When you’re being met with a wall of obstruction and suspicion from one side (and actually being interrogated yourself for merely asking questions about Kadeer and wanting the full story) then it’s probably natural that the film might evolve into more of a personal story centred on the protagonist.

    The director made repeated attempts and has said he would welcome a response from China clearly outlining why Kadeer is such a threat. The bullying that we have seen from China officials in the last few weeks is NOT a reasoned response. The incoherent ranting about Kadeer’s alleged crimes, and the downright illegal hacking by one or more Chinese government supporters is only really reinforcing the film’s position.

    I honestly hope that other angles to this no-doubt complex story do emerge. Both Han and Uighur people have suffered in the recent unrest. But right now, the Government of China is not exactly helping its own cause by attempting to censor one adverse viewpoint.

    Personally, in this climate, I think it’d be a brave (verging on foolhardy) person that would go in hard and really push an unwilling Chinese government official for information in an attempt to “dig deeper”. Maybe it’s just me.

  9. Ronan Macewan July 27, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    I agree with you Sarah, any documentary maker has to make a choices about which material they are going to focus on. A 57 minute run time is pushes you into an extreme economy. Additionally objectivity is a bit of an illusion in documentary film making. Despite this I don’t think you could argue that 10 conditions was out and out propaganda.
    It presented an angle into the issue and was extremely illuminating as a result.

    Thanks for your comments, appreciated.

  10. Tom Young August 2, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    I think this would be a good movie. But it also seems like it takes some time to get into. Thanks for the review!


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