An intimate portrait of peasant-turned oil painters transitioning from simply making copies of iconic Western paintings to creating their own authentic works of art, emblematic of the journey that China is going through, from ‘Made in China’ to ‘Created in China’.

Selected festivals so far:

NETPAC Award, at Moscow Film Festival Awards, 2018

Grand Jury Prize, Documentary Academy Award, China, 2018

Best Feature Documentary  (International co-production), 15th Guangzhou International Documentary Film Festival, 2017

Best Feature Documentary Film, Los Angeles Chinese Film Festival, 2017 

Silver Prize, Ethnography Documentary Festival China, 2017

Best Director Award, Skip City International D Cinema Festival, 15-24 Jul 2017, Japan

TRT Documentary Awards, May 2017

Best Documentary (International co-production), Beijing International Film Festival 2017

DOCS, South Korea, 21-28 Sep 2017

New Zealand International Film Festival, 14 Jul-6 Aug 2017

Documentary Competition, the 11th First Film Festival, 21-29 Jul 2017, China

the 48th Vision Du Reel, Competition section, April 2017 

UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, March 2017

Thessaloniki Film Festival, February 2017

Helsinki Documentary Film Festival DocPoint, January 2017

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Panorama Section, November 2016 (World Premiere) 

Panel 1

About the Film

Until 1989, the village of Dafen in the city of Shenzhen, China was little more than a hamlet. It now has a population of 10,000, including hundreds of peasants-turned oil painters. In the many studios, and even in the alleyways, Dafen’s painters turn out thousands of replicas of world-famous Western paintings. Nobody thinks anything of an order for 200 Van Goghs. To meet their deadlines, painters sleep on the floor between clotheslines strung with masterpieces. In 2015, the turnover in painting sales was over $65 million.

Directors Haibo and Kiki Tianqi Yu, the father-daughter team, followed one of the painters, Xiaoyong Zhao. He and his family have painted around 100,000 Van Goghs. After all these years, Zhao feels a deep affinity with Van Gogh. Having never seen van Gogh’s original paintings, Zhao’s biggest dream is to travel to Amsterdam to see the works of his legendary associate. After struggling and saving, he fulfils dream. In Europe, his encounter with van Gogh’s paintings brings an epiphany. Although dejected at the revelation, Zhao is inspired by van Gogh’s paintings and the hardships he suffered, and resolves to dedicate himself to his own original art, searching for his own authentic voice in order to be true to the spirit of his hero and mentor – Vincent can Gogh. China’s van Goghs not only presents how this painter pursues his dream, but also tells the human story of challenge and struggle during the journey, emblematic of the journey that China is going through from ‘made in China’ to ‘Created in China’.

Panel 2


China’s van Goghs will be theatrically released in Japan in Oct 2018!

Japan release

China’s van Goghs will be screened at BFI London on 24 Feb 2018

China’s van Goghs will be at 3 film festivals this month:

New Zealand International Film Festival, 14 Jul-6 Aug 2017 Auckland

Documentary Competition, the 11th First Film Festival, 21-29 Jul 2017 China

Skip City International D Cinema Festival, 15-24 July 2017 Japan

China’s van Goghs @ TRT Documentary Award, May 2017

China’s van Goghs UK Premier @ Chinese Visual Festival, 6 May, London (King’s Lucas)

China’s van Goghs just won Best Feature Documentary (international co-production) @ Beijing International Film Festival 2017.

China’s van Goghs will be shown on 26th and 27th April, at the 48th Vision Du Reel, 2017.

Panel 3

About the Team

Haibo Yu, Kiki Tianqi Yu (filmmakers "China's Van Goghs")

Director and Cinematographer:

YU Haibo 余海波 is a filmmaker and a well-known Chinese social photographer. He’s the Director of Shenzhen Professional Photographers Association and the Chief Photo Editor of Shenzhen Economic Daily. His most prominent photo story China Dafen Oil Painting Village won the 49th World Press Photography Contest 2006, and was collected by San Francisco Modern Art Museum, V&A Museum, London. Yu is the pioneer in surrealism photography in China for his work “on the other riverside of the illusion chain” which won the top prize at the 15th National Photography Exhibition in 1988. Since 1989, he has been working on documentary photography, and his photo stories including “Tibet”, “Music Youth”, “China’s urban expansion”, have won many prizes and been exhibited internationally. Yu published a book Living in China’s Shenzhen (2008), and a photo-essay film One Man’s Shenzhen (2012).


2016 China’s Van Goghs (Feature documentary film)

2012 One Man’s Shenzhen (Photo-essay film)

Producer and co-director:

Kiki Tianqi Yu 余天琦 is a filmmaker, scholar, film curator. She worked as associate professor of Film Studies at USC-SJTU Institute of Cultural and Creative Industry, base in Shanghai. Her films include feature length documentary China’s van Goghs (2016), which was premiered at IDFA 2016 and entered the 48th Vision Du Reel 2017. Her other award-winning films include Photographing Shenzhen (2007) (Discovery), and nonfiction moving image work Memory of Home (2009) collected by DSLCollection, Tube (2008) and Children of Tibet (2007).

Kiki’s research focuses on documentary theory, practice and industry, essayistic nonfiction, amateur cinema and cultural memories, Chinese cinemas and artist moving image. She publishes on Studies in Documentary Film, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, and Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, among others. She is the co-editor of China’s iGeneration(Bloomsbury, 2014) and the author of the forthcoming monograph ‘My’ Self on Camera: First Person Documentary Practice in an Individualising China (Edinburgh University Press, 2018). Yu holds a PhD in Cinema Studies (Documentary) from the University of Westminster, London, and an MPhil in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. She is the daughter of Yu Haibo. 


2016 China’s Van Goghs (Feature documentary film)

2009 Memory of Home (Exhibition film)

2007 Photographing Shenzhen (Discovery Channel)


Executive producers: Zhao Lijun, Yu Haibo

Co-producer: Reinette van de Stadt

Associate producer: Anthony Thomas McKenna

Editors: Soren Ebbe, Tom Hsin-Ming, Axel Skovdal Roelofs

Music composer: Julian Lukas Lentz, Weiqi Yu

Sound design: Klink Audio

Calligraphy: Mi Nanyang



Panel 4 Placeholder