The Rising Tide (2008), Robert Adanto's debut feature-length documentary, explores China’s meteoric march towards the future via the words and works of some of the Middle Kingdom's most talented photographers and video artists, including the celebrated Wang Qingsong, Cao Fei, Chen Qiulin, Xu Zhen, Yang Yong, BirdHead, and O Zhang. Shot in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen in the summer of 2006, this unflinching and incisive study captures the confusion and ambiguity that characterize the new China. “An often surprising and thought-provoking documentary,” wrote WICN’s Mark Lynch, “The rest of us better make an effort to grasp what their work is about, or get out of the way. An “eye-opener” in every sense of the word, if you are an artist, curator or art teacher be sure to catch this film.” Richard Vine, Senior Editor, Art In America and author of New China, New Art wrote, "If you want a living sense of China’s contemporary art scene—and the artists who are shaking it up—check out Robert Adanto’s The Rising Tide. It reveals some of the brightest and best new talents, capturing their works, their words, and their faces amid a swiftly changing environment."
The film premiered at the UK's China Now! Festival as part of Constant Stream: China 08 at the Royal College of Art Helen Hamlyn Centre in London, where it screened with a film by acclaimed Chinese director Jia Zhangke. The film has also enjoyed screenings at The Hammer Museum, The Smithsonian Institution's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC, The National Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow, The Worcester Art Museum, and The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami. The film was also featured at The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, screening in conjunction with Shanghai Kaleidoscope, an exhibition curated by Christopher Phillips of the International Center for Photography in NY, and was an Official Selection of The Cape Winelands Film Festival in Cape Town, South Africa. In May of 2009, the film screened in association with Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection at the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, MA, and later that month Mr. Adanto was a participant in Backroom Conversations presented by Asia Art Archive at ArtHK09. In June 2009, the film was screened in conjunction with The China Project at The Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, Australia, and The Works Art and Design Festival in Edmonton, Alberta. In October of 2009, the film screened in association with Reversed Images: Representations of Shanghai and Its Contemporary Material Culture at The Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, in conjunction with Art for the Millions: 100 Sculptures from the Mao Era. The film recently screened at the Los Angeles Art Show and in conjunction with Cao Fei's RMB City Opera at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Kansas.