Video Zone: The Real “Script”— Twinkle Dammit! 


Minsheng Lecture



Xu Chuang

Guest: Xu Chuang
Date: Sun. August 8, 2021
Time: 14:00-16:30
Location: Multimedia Hall 1F, Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum

.For the public health, the event requires real-name registration.
.Please bring your ID and wait in line at the admission.
.Before your entrance, you should get your temperature measured and register your information.
.Please wear a face mask the whole time during your visit. If you are experiencing a fever, cough, or short of breath, please understand that admission will not be granted.
.Please arrive 15 minutes before the start of the event.

Margaret & John Cage

In 1971, Margaret Leng Tan was the first woman to earn a Doctorate degree from the Juilliard School. Since then, her five-decade career has made the musician a figurehead of avant-garde music, owing predominantly to her incorporation of the toy piano in her performances. We meet Leng Tan at the age of 71 as she embarks on an iconic collaboration with George Crumb. Leng Tan has become the well-known avant-garde pianist and has been invited to hold her solo recital at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Carnegie Hall. She has successfully expanded the boundaries of classical music and founded a new type of music that involves toy piano. She is also the muse of the late John Cage, a lengendary composer. In Cage’s last 12 years of life, he established close association with Margaret and they produced numerous maserpieces.

Margaret and Geroge Crumb discussing music

Through Twinkle Dammit! we can now meet 76-year-old Margaret, who is collaborating with Geroge Crumb, one of the last remaining avant-garde composers of his era, on a piano suite “Metamorphose.”

Part of the notes of Mikrokosmos—Geroge Crumb

Documentary | 70 min | English
Director | Xu Chuang
Starring | Margeret Leng Tan/George Crumb/John Cage
International Sales Agent: Beijing Hugoest Media Co. LTD

Twinkle Dammit! gives access to the rarely-seen creative process between two musical geniuses, peeling back the public-facing surface of the world's greatest toy-piano-virtuoso to explore the private obsessions that have lead to a life committed to the avant-garde. We also get to see how artists fill their lonliness with art, how they push their limits in creative practice, and how they live a common life beside all the glory in their careers.
Xu Chuang, the director of Twinkle Dammit! was naturally drawn by Margaret’s “rebellious” story and then retells and introduce avant-garde classical music—a seemingly intimidating world—to the audience, in an intimate, humorous, and nostalgic way. Xu Chuang also did a marvolous job in breaking the fourth wall: the intimacy between director and subject can be clearly seen. Documentray is a type of film that excludes fiction and script. In Xu Chuang’s opinion, “the realness of the story does not need any formal modification, while documentary is not necessarily with an amateurish visual style. When I breed a story with genuinity, the outcome will not be too different from what I want.”


The manual instruction of Metro Piano gifted from Margaret to Xu Chuang

In 2021, Twinkle Dammit! entered the “Spectrum: SIFF Rhapsody” unit of 24th Shanghai International Film Festival, officially premiered in China. This event invites the director Xu Chuang to share about the loneliness behind the challenge to “sublime worship to art,” beside all the success and creativity. Xu Chuang is also going to talk about the process of recording with intimacy, and about promoting and preserving contemporary avant-garde classical music.

Viewing the first editing version of the film with Crumb’s and Margaret

About the guest

Xu Chuang

Xu Chuang is a multi-disciplinary film director and cinematographer based in New York. He received his MFA degree in Social Documentary Film department in School of Visual Arts. Chuang's career started in 2013, he worked on a variety of documentary series about environmental conservation. He focused on exploring the motivations of human behavirors and excavating the pure inner world of the character. His style is to build up stories in a compelling and intimate way. 
Twinkle Dammit! is Xu’s first documentary, which was finalist in 2019 Student Academy Awards the Florida Film Festival 2020 and was elected for the Media Library 2020 at Versions du Réel, International Film Festival Nyon. The film was also nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Vienna Independent Film Festival 2020, while director Chuang Xu was nominated for Best Director at the same festival. More recently, Twinkle Dammit! won Best Director in the Feature Documentary Category at the 2020 NÒT Film Fest (Italy) and Best Foreign Language Documentary at the 2020 Kadoma International Film Festival (Japan). It also entered 2021 24th Shanghai International Film Festival.
In 2019, Xu Chuang participated Global Youth Summit in United Nations, and became the donators of the Library of Congress and International Piano Archives at Maryland in 2020.

About Video Zone

Video Zone is a long-term non-profit project organized by the Public Education Department of Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum. The project supports the displaying, studies, and communication of image and video art. Through displaying and discussing about films, animation, video art of different categories, different countries and regions, and different forms, Image Zone is dedicated to constructing an interdisciplinary image archive with workshops and seminars involving artists, scholars, and the public. The project is to build a solid foundation for creation, academic study, and public educating of image art.