Chinese Rocks: Sheffield filmmaker tipped for awards

Sheffield filmmaker Richard Anderson has hit the right notes with his debut documentary about China’s exploding underground music scene.

Chinese Rocks - Making of A Legend has been tipped for awards after film and music industry praise following a screening at BAFTA.

The 90-minute film unveils the astounding true story of how the discovery of a discarded photo, of New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders ignited a firestorm of underground music across China and inspired a generation.

It takes its name from a Johnny Thunders’ cult single and reveals how a shamanic outsider, from 3,000 miles west of Beijing, triggered unprecedented upheaval across China’s music history. His life-changing performances ultimately reach 450 million people.

Chinese Rocks is riddled with bizarre parallels to the UK and US alternative music scene and the punk explosion of the mid-1970s..

It features contributions from UK music luminaries including Alan McGee, of Creation Records, which launched Oasis.

The film also includes interviews with Marco Pirroni, who worked with Adam and the Ants, Siouxsie and the Banshees and more, plus Tony James of Generation X, Sigue Sigue Sputnik and Sisters of Mercy fame.

For director Richard, of SW4Film, who crossed three continents to create his pioneering work, the documentary represents a significant shift from a professional background in music, photography and journalism, to filmmaking.

But it almost didn’t get made at all. The raft of filming derailments became almost routine.

Cultural complications, political sensitivities, physical distances, global political sensitivities, international pandemics, and social media wars against one of the film’s stars, were all part of the daily schedule.

Yet Richard’s belief in the project never wavered.

He said: “This is an amazing story which deserves to be told, and a chance to bridge an often seismic-seeming divide between Eastern and Western culture which is needed today more than ever.”

Richard Anderson director SW4FILM filming Penicillin's ground-breaking show at Beijing's Gongti Stadium
Chinese Rocks - Making of A Legend
Director Richard Anderson with Pencillin frontman Sweet Pete
Alan McGee of Creation Records