Piracy Cultures| From “D-Buffs” to the “D-Generation”: Piracy, Cinema, and An Alternative Public Sphere in Urban China

Jinying Li


China’s rampant movie piracy has given rise to an alternative film culture. Through the viral infrastructure of pirate circulation and consumption, an active cineaste culture of “D-buffs” and an independent film practice, the “D-generation,” have rapidly emerged and expanded in urban China. This essay’s examination of the D-buff subculture and the D-generation movement shows that this alternative, pirate film culture has opened up precious space for an alternative public sphere to develop counter to the hegemonic pseudo-public controlled by state censorship and commercial industries. By organizing spectatorship and filmmaking through the shadow system of piracy, this alternative public sphere provides an inclusive, heterogeneous, and non-controllable social horizon for organizing collective experience and identities.

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