Dead Pigs wins award

Source: China Daily (1/13/19)
Chinese film wins jury award at Palm Springs Int’l Film Festival
By Xinhua | Updated: 2019-01-13 15:01

A poster of film “Dead Pigs”. [Photo/VCG]

PALM SPRINGS — Chinese film “Dead pigs” won a jury award Saturday at the 30th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF).

“Dead Pigs” by Cathy Yan received Ricky Jay Magic of Cinema Award, an honor for a film “that exemplifies a pioneering spirit in furthering the language of storytelling and the magic of cinema.”

“Dead Pigs” is Yan’s directorial debut. It is inspired by a real incident of dead pigs floating in a river in China, and expands to cover the stories of five characters, namely, a pig farmer, a salon owner, a busboy, an expat architect and a rich girl. The narrative is set against China’s fast urburnization in recent years.

The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2018 and won a special jury award for Ensemble Acting, with stars including Vivian Wu, Haoyu Yang, and Meng Li.

Yan was born in China and grew up in the United States. She said the film is “a little dark” but “also funny and dramatic.” Continue reading

Leave No Dark Corner

Leave No Dark Corner, an Australian documentary about the Social Credit system, aired last September. In case other list members missed it then as I did, I’d like to commend it to your attention. It’s well made, despite resorting to a couple of “re-enactments” along with its riveting interviews. The half-hour film focuses on three people: a young professional who, with her cadre husband, thinks the social credit system will do wonderful things for the Chinese people; Liu Hu, the Chongqing journalist whose career was terminated  by the system; and Tahir Hamut, a Uyghur refugee who describes how the system works in Xinjiang.

A. E. Clark <>

Looking for Kafka

Source: Taipei Times (1/3/18)
FILM REVIEW: Looking for Kafka
An opportunity to interpret the enduring theme of the love triangle and the precise pain of suddenly losing a romantic partner is missed as the film tries to do too much in too little time
By Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Lin Che-hsi plays Lin Chia-sheng, the son of a wealthy businessman who is kidnapped, in Looking for Kafka. Photo courtesy of Flash Forward Entertainment

Twenty-six years after her best-selling novel Men Wanted (徵婚啟事) was published, author Jade Chen (陳玉慧) has made her debut as a film director with Looking for Kafka (愛上卡夫卡), which had its festival premiere at the 21st Shanghai International Film Festival in June last year and will be in theaters tomorrow.

In the film, Pineapple (Jian Man-shu, 簡嫚書), an assistant at an avant-garde stage production of Franz Kafka’s novella Metamorphosis, finds herself in the uncomfortable position of having to help the girlfriend, Julie (Julia Roy), of the man she was unofficially dating, Lin Chia-sheng (Lin Che-hsi, 林哲熹), look for him after he goes missing. (Those familiar with Men Wanted or the impressive array of films, television shows, and stage productions it inspired will notice the striking recurrence of the missing love interest.) Continue reading

Arthouse film “breaks box office records”

Source: The Guardian (1/2/18)
Chinese arthouse film breaks box office records after viewers mistake it for romcom
A Long Day’s Journey Into Night took $38m on its opening day, but some viewers complained that marketing suggested it was a seasonal romcom, rather than a challenging drama
By Catherine Shoard

Artful … a scene from A Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Bi Gan.

Artful … a scene from A Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Bi Gan. Photograph: ©LIU HONGYU

When Bi Gan’s latest drama premiered at Cannes in May 2018, critics were quick to praise its challenging, languorous narrative about a man returning to his home town in search of a former flame, as well as the ambitious single-take, hour-long dream sequence, and a shorter section in 3D.

Early box office projections anticipated a modest increase on the takings for Gan’s previous film, Kaili Blues, about two depressed rural doctors. Yet A Long Day’s Journey Into Night took $38m in China on its opening night on 31 December, beating the likes of Venom. Continue reading

HK Cinema through a Global Lens MOOC


Registration is now open for the fifth offering of Hong Kong Cinema through a Global Lens, the first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Hong Kong cinema to be produced anywhere in the world.  The online course starts on January 22, 2019. Enjoy the conversation on Hong Kong cinema with internationally-recognized film studies scholars Professor Gina Marchetti and Dr. Aaron Han Joon Magnan-Park from the HKU Department of Comparative Literature and Dr. Stacilee Ford from the HKU Department of History and American Studies Program with the creative assistance of HKU TELI (Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative).

The edX platform hosts Hong Kong Cinema through a Global Lens, which is free of charge on the Internet. Lively and student-centered, this MOOC is appropriate for secondary, tertiary, and lifelong learners from all corners of the globe, who have a good command of the English language. Teachers are welcome and encouraged to adapt various modules and materials for their own classroom or e-learning needs. The course explores globalization through Hong Kong cinema featuring crisp analyses of the actors and filmmakers whose lives and films connect the local Hong Kong scene to global histories, events, and trends. Throughout the six-week course, students will encounter stars including Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Maggie Cheung as well as award-winning directors such as John Woo, Mabel Cheung, Andrew Lau, and Wong Kar Wai. Continue reading

Poet Meng Lang video

詩人孟浪 Poet Meng Lang. By 黄文海 [Huang Wenhai]

詩人孟浪(關於他的三個片段,在香港、台灣、美國)- Poet Meng Lang (three sequences of his life in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States)
Video, 16:33 min.
Published on Dec 21, 2018

-Includes poetry readings by Meng Lang, as well as interviews with him.

Posted by: Magnus Fiskesjö,

Postsocialist Conditions

Dear Colleagues,

Due to technical reasons, my book Postsocialist Conditions: Ideas and History in China’s “Independent Cinema”, 1988-2008 was postponed for publication. But now it is available. You can find the description in the Brill website and you can purchase it from Please see the following links. Thank you.

Best Regards,

Xiaoping Wang <>

5 films to binge on

Source: RadII (12/19/18)
5 Chinese Films to Binge on Netflix This Winter Break

In preparation for the holidays, Netflix has been adding to their collection of Hallmark-esque Christmas flicks — everything from royal weddings, to magical advent calendars, to swapping places with your newly-discovered doppelganger who happens to be (you guessed it) royalty. But if this isn’t your cup of hot cocoa, the streaming service has also been bulking up on Chinese-language content. Last year, the entertainment giant acquired its first mainland China drama series, Day and Night, after securing a distribution deal with Alibaba’s flagship video platform Youku. At its first-ever content showcase in Asia last month, Netflix announced 17 new original productions in the making, including a mafia-themed Taiwanese rom-dram. But even without such new projects, a quick browse through the site’s international movie and TV sections reveals dozens of Chinese stories to match any mood.

While film aficionados may be disappointed to find some major hits missing from the online library — where is Zhang Yimou’s Raise the Red Lantern or Han Han’s Duckweed? — Netflix is still a good starting point for delving into the world of Asian entertainment. As our gift to you, RADII’s Julienna Law has uncovered some of the gems worth checking out this break:

Us and Them (2018)

Nothing says “holidays” quite like broken promises and bittersweet romance, amirite? Continue reading

Animation that deconstructs itself

Source: Association for Chinese Animation Studies (12/14/18)
The Animation that Deconstructs Itself—Liu Jian’s Piercing I and Have a Nice Day
By Yiman Wang

Liu Jian, a Nanjing-based animator and director with a background in painting, has single-handedly launched the genre of black humor adult animation in China, and further catapulted it into the international limelight with two feature-length works, Piercing I (2010) and Have a Nice Day (2018). Produced by the Le Joy Animation Studio, which was founded by Liu in 2007, both works are a testament to what Liu calls “One person’s animation film” (yigeren de donghua dianying).[1] Breaking away from the industry convention of collective assembly work, Liu was individually responsible for the script, drawings, animation, editing, music selection, and many other aspects of making and marketing these films. Have a Nice Day took four years to make. During this period, Liu worked ten hours a day and drew forty-four thousand cells; the finished film is composed of eight hundred shots. His artisanal and auteurist approach ensures that the films carry his trademark black humor, cartoonish minimalist aesthetics, and absurdist narrative. Continue reading

Vintage movie magazines

Source: CNN (12/9/18)
Vintage Chinese movie magazines capture a glamorous bygone era
By Oscar Holland, CNN

Credit: Paul Fonoroff / University of California, Berkeley

If Hollywood’s golden era can be understood through magazines like Silver Screen and Photoplay, then China’s early film industry can also be viewed through the most popular movie publications of their day.

For film critic and historian, Paul Fonoroff, this means studying the elaborate, colorful pages of titles like Movie Weekly, Silver Flower Monthly and the supremely popular Chin-Chin Screen. Continue reading

People’s Republic of Desire review

Source: Film Insider (12/5/18)
The People’s Republic of Desire: Inside China’s Lucrative Livestreaming Craze

Last Tuesday, the winner of the prestigious South by South West Film Festival 2018 Grand Jury Award for documentary feature was screened in New York at an event co-hosted by China Film Insider and Jing Daily.

People’s Republic of Desire takes the viewer into the lucrative and exploitative world of, a NASDAQ-listed Chinese social media site focused on live video streaming.

A virtual display of the number of fans and their worship of the livestreamer Shen Man. Courtesy Photo.

As many luxury brands increasingly use livestreaming to attract fans and monetize that attention, they need to understand what’s driving the estimated $5-billion livestreaming juggernaut in China. Livestreamers can receive money from viewers — which has sent ordinary people on a quest to instant fame and fortune.

The film has gotten a wave of international attention as it races for the Oscar shortlist. The Hollywood Reporter wrote: “Reckoning the cost of fame… a revealing examination of contemporary Chinese internet culture.” The film is also “provocative and unsettling as it brings us on a guided tour through the digital marketplace for something resembling human contact,” commented Variety. Continue reading

Veg on Wang Bing’s Dead Souls

Source: Sebastian Veg Blog (11/25/18)
Wang Bing’s Dead Souls and the Memory of Prison Camp survivors
By Sebastian Veg

A few weeks ago, Wang Bing’s newest 9-hour documentary Dead Souls got a small-scale arthouse release in Paris. In conjunction with the release, EHESS organized public screenings of some of his earlier films and invited Wang Bing to give a masterclass on October 31.

Dead Souls is a project Wang Bing has been working on for over a decade. When Yang Xianhui’s book Chronicles of Jiabiangou (a collection of lightly fictionalized oral history accounts of former victims of the Anti-Rightist movement in Gansu who survived the deadly famine in the Jiabiangou Reeducation Through Labor Camp in 1960), which I wrote about in China Quarterly, was first published in 2003, Wang Bing contacted Yang. Wang Bing is from rural Shaanxi, which borders Gansu and, as he has mentioned in interviews, two of his uncles on his father’s side were persecuted as rightists, which may have sparked his interest in the book. After buying the film rights to Yang’s book, Wang Bing proceeded to start seeking out the people Yang had talked to, conducting his own interviews with them. One of these interviews with He Fengming, who had written a book explaining how her husband Wang Jingchao died of famine in Jiabiangou, became a stand-alone film, Fengming (2007). These interviews were preparations for a fiction film project, which was finally completed in 2010 under the title The Ditch. Shot in harrowing conditions more or less on location, it uses what I argued was a form of highly theatrical acting to create a sense of distance between the viewer and the story. Since that time, Wang Bing has mentioned that he had plans to use the footage of the 120 preparatory interviews to make a kind of compendium documentary on the Anti-Rightist movement. This is the project that has now partially come to fruition (Dead Souls is supposed to be the first part of a several-part project). Wang Bing struggled for many years with this material to the point of mental anguish and only managed to overcome the difficulties after going back to Lanzhou in 2014 and re-interviewing those of the survivors who were still alive. He has stated that observing the speed at which their ranks were thinning gave him a sense of urgency that helped him finish the film. Continue reading

Wang Bing on exposing the hidden China

Source: SCMP (11/27/18)
Filmmaker who revealed horrors of Mao’s Chinese gulags talks about exposing the hidden China
Wang Bing says he doesn’t think about whether his films will foster social change, but is happy to ‘plant the seeds’ in Chinese audience members. Making documentaries with a small crew has allowed him to stay under the radar of Chinese authorities in a way feature-film makers can’t
By James Richard Havis

Qi Luji in a still from documentarian Wang Bing’s latest film, Dead Souls, about a labour camp in the Gobi Desert, most of whose inmates starved to death in China’s Great Famine between 1958 and 1960. The eight-hour film was screened at this year’s Cannes festival.

Capturing life as it happens, and recording life as it happened, could be the twin mantras of Chinese documentary filmmaker Wang Bing. Since his epic nine-hour 2002 documentary Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks, which followed the lives of workers in the decaying state-run factories of China’s rust belt northeast, 51-year-old Wang has become one of China’s most important filmmakers, and earned an international reputation.

Wang, whose films are not screened in China because of their controversial political and social subject matter, was recently the subject of an all-encompassing retrospective in New York, hosted by three prestigious venues and institutions: The Metrograph, which screened a six-film selection of his work; the Film Society of Lincoln Centre, which screened West of the Tracks in three parts; and the Asia Society. The event was put together by the Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation. Continue reading

Beijing cuts live coverage of Golden Horse awards

Source: The Guardian (11/20/18)
Chinese Oscars: Beijing cuts live coverage after winner calls for independent Taiwan
Speech by documentary filmmaker Fu Yue censored after she calls for Taiwan to be recognised as an ‘independent entity’
By Benjamin Haas in Seoul

Taiwanese director Fu Yue, left, delivers a speech next to producer Hong Ting Yi after she won Best Documentary at the 55th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei

Taiwanese director Fu Yue, left, delivers a speech next to producer Hong Ting Yi after she won best documentary at the 55th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei. Photograph: HuImages/AP

The Chinese-language version of the Oscars, the Golden Horse Awards, have become the latest flashpoint in tense relations between China and Taiwan after a film director questioned the island’s political status.

Documentary filmmaker Fu Yue called for Taiwan to be recognised as an “independent entity” during her acceptance speech, fighting back tears as she said, “this is my biggest wish as a Taiwanese”. Her speech was quickly censored on Chinese television and streams, with the coverage going black. Continue reading

The Formation of Chinese Art Cinema

New Book
Yang, Li. The Formation of Chinese Art Cinema: 1990-2003. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

The Formation of Chinese Art Cinema: 1990-2003 examines the development of Chinese art film in the People’s Republic of China from 1990, when the first Sixth Generation film Mama was released, to 2003, when the authorities acknowledged the legitimacy of underground filmmakers. Through an exploration of the production and consecration mechanisms of the new art wave and its representative styles, this book argues that the art wave of the 1990s fundamentally defined Chinese art cinema. In particular, this vital art wave was not enabled by democratic liberalism, but by the specific industrial development, in which the film system was transitioning from Socialist propaganda into a commercialized entity in the 1990s. Allowing Chinese art film to grow but denying its legitimacy, this paradoxical process shaped Chinese art film’s institutional and aesthetic alternative positioning, which helped to consolidate the art wave into art cinema. Ultimately, The Formation of Chinese Art Cinema is a history of the Chinese portion of global art cinema, one which also reveals the complex Chinese cultural experiences in the Reform Era. Continue reading