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

China opens door to more foreign films

Source: SCMP (10/23/18)
China quietly opens door to more foreign films

  • Regulators allowing more international releases than permitted under current quotas
  • Unofficial easing of restrictions comes as talks with Hollywood studios stall amid trade war

By Sarah Zheng

Crazy Rich Asians is being allowed to open in China next month. Photo: Handout.

China is quietly allowing more foreign films to be imported even though talks between Beijing and Hollywood about an official deal to allow greater access to the world’s fastest growing film market have stalled.

Under a quota system designed to limit the number of foreign films screened in the country, only 34 foreign releases are allowed to be distributed on a revenue-sharing basis.

But in recent years that quota has been exceeded “albeit unofficially and for tactical reasons,” according to a report from the London-based global information provider IHS Markit, paving the way for more international blockbusters, such as the November debut of Crazy Rich Asians. Continue reading

The Rise of Wolf Culture

Source: ACAS: Association for Chinese Animation Studies (10/16/18)
The Rise of Wolf Culture: Thoughts on Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf
By Jianhua Chen; translated by Isabel Galwey

The first ten years of the twenty-first century have passed in a snap of the fingers. Many trends have come and gone, but nothing has prevented the onward march of the globalized economy. The world, the globe, and our everyday lives are undergoing historic changes — and so are our value systems. People live as if in constant movement; danger accompanies opportunity.  People have become more materialistic, more impatient, and more fragile. Under all this pressure, they seek relaxation and pleasure. This era has been described as the “digital age,” the “information age,” but also the “the age of entertainment.”[i]

Half a century ago French Philosopher Guy Debord posited his theory of the “society of spectacle:” that the urban environment brought about by capitalism is coloured by its alienated, fetishistic ideologies — and citizens unconsciously live in accordance with its capitalistic logic. Now, new digital technology and internet culture have brought about a new world of mass media, stranger even than the “spectacular society.” Nobody is interested in “ideology” anymore. The intelligentsia of the 20th century were at the forefront of ideological movements, but in an age dominated by mass media, these intellectuals are powerless. Ideology itself, however, has not been absent. Rather, it has remained in the background of everyday entertainment. Ideology is transmitted though the globalised circulation of cultural products and aesthetics. Our essential values — what is “truth” and what is “good and evil”— are undergoing unprecedented and dramatic changes. Continue reading

National-day Films

Source: China Film Insider (9/25/18)
Headlines from China: Holiday Box Office: A Look at National-day Films
By China Film Insider

A still from “Hello, Mrs. Money”

Holiday Box Office: A Look at National-day Films 

Along with the Lunar New Year, China’s National Day (October 1) is one of the two lucrative weeks on China’s cinematic calendar. This year, local films are expected to dominate the box office again. Frontrunners include Zhang Yimou’s Shadow, Mahua FunAge’s Hello, Mrs. Money and Hong Kong crime drama Project Gutenberg. Hollywood science fiction film The Predator recently passed the Chinese censorship and may score a release date during the National-day holiday. Anther two noteworthy releases are Baby starring Yang Mi and Lost, Found starring Yao Chen and Ma Yili. Read more on Mtime Continue reading

Jia Zhangke roasts Hu Xijin over review

Source: SupChina (9/26/18)
Director Jia Zhangke Roasts Hu Xijin Over His Review Of ‘Ash Is Purest White’

It’s widely acknowledged that Hu Xijin 胡锡进, Editor-in-Chief at the nationalist tabloid the Global Times, has many opinions.

Aside from performing editorial work, he uses social media to whine about things that irritate him in thousands of ways. While most of his enemies chose to ignore his rants, Hu’s latest Weibo post, in which he gives a negative review of Jia Zhangke’s new movie Ash Is Purest White, has brought him under fire, making him a subject of ridicule by internet users who have long been disgusted by his takes that literally no one is asking for. Continue reading

I’ve Got a Little Problem review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jenn Marie Nunes’ review of the documentary film I’ve Got a Little Problem (我有一个忧郁的, 小问题, 2018), by Zhang Ximing 张溪溟. The film documents the life and work of photographer/poet Ren Hang 任航, who committed suicide in 2017. The essay has too many images and video clips to post here. Readers can find it online at: Our thanks to Cinema Guild, I’ve Got a Little Problem‘s distributor, for allowing us to use clips from the film.

Enjoy, Kirk Denton, editor

Fan Bingbing has vanished

Source: Time (9/17/18)
China’s Leading Actress Fan Bingbing Has Vanished. Here’s What to Know

In past years, actress Fan Bingbing was a regular presence on film festival red carpets and fashion catwalks from Barcelona to Busan. And then, suddenly, she wasn’t.

Film fans are expressing alarm at Fan’s disquieting recent disappearance from public life: she was last seen on July 1, while visiting a children’s hospital. Her account on China’s popular Sina Weibo social media network, where she has 63 million followers, has been silent since July 23.

Speculation is linking the disappearance of Fan, one of cinema’s top-earners, to an alleged tax evasion scandal at a time when China’s state-controlled film industry is cutting back on bloated budgets and star-driven blockbusters. Continue reading

Crazy Rich Asians may not fly in China

Source: NYT (9/6/18)
‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Has Soared, but It May Not Fly in China
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
By Amy Qin

“Crazy Rich Asians” does not yet have a release date in China. Under China’s strict quota system, a limited number of foreign films are approved for import every year and some experts are skeptical about the movie’s chances there.CreditCreditSanja Bucko/Warner Bros. Entertainment, via Associated Press 

HONG KONG — “Crazy Rich Asians,” the first major Hollywood studio release in 25 years with an all-Asian cast, has been hailed as a breakthrough in the United States, one that has topped the North American box office three weekends running. It has been dominating in other markets with large ethnic Chinese populations as well, including Taiwan and Singapore, where the film is set.

With its cast of mostly ethnic Chinese characters, a soundtrack featuring a number of Chinese artists and story notes that emphasize Chinese culture, it would also seem assured of success in China, the world’s second-largest film market, which is playing a growing role in Hollywood’s calculations. The movie even opens with a quote from Napoleon: “China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world.” Continue reading

Zhang Yimou’s “Shadow” stuns Venice audience

Source: (9/9/18)
Beauty of Zhang Yimou’s ‘Shadow’ stuns audience in Venice
By Zhang Rui

Director Zhang Yimou receives and holds the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker prize awarded to him ahead of the world premiere of “Shadow” during 75th Venice International Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Sept. 6, 2018. [Photo courtesy of Le Chuang Entertainment]

The world premiere of renowned Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s new period historical epic “Shadow” was held on Thursday at the 75th Venice International Film Festival and the oriental aesthetics that are a great feature of the film wowed the audience.

Zhang appeared at the red-carpet event with cast members Zheng Kai, Wang Qianyuan, Hu Jun, Wang Jingchun and Guan Xiaotong. Continue reading

HK cinema MOOC

The “rerun” of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Hong Kong cinema will begin on 11 September 2018 (Tuesday). This is a great opportunity for you to understand Hong Kong cinema’s uniqueness and its continuing impact in transforming other national cinemas.

MOOC description

This pioneering online experience is under the direction of 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 Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative (TELI).

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. Each week a new film showcases talents, themes, and local-global connections. Continue reading

Ideas and History in China’s Independent Cinema

I’m pleased to announce publication of my book Postsocialist Conditions: Ideas and History in China’s “Independent Cinema,” 1988-2008 (472 pp.) by Brill. This book offers a comprehensive survey and trenchant critique of China’s “Independent Cinema” by the sixth-generation auteurs. By showing the multi-valence of the postsocialist conditions in contemporary Chinese society, their films articulate a new cultural-political logic in postsocialist China, which is also the logic of the market in this era of neoliberal transformation, brought about by the forces of marketization since the late 1980s. The directors laudably show the spirits of humanism and the humanitarian concerns of the underclass, yet the shortage and repudiation of class analysis prohibits the artists from exploring the social contradictions and the cause of class restructuration.–Xiaoping Wang <> Continue reading

“Rise of Phoenixes” on Netflix

Source: Variety (8/29/18)
Netflix to Fly With China’s ‘Rise of Phoenixes’


Global streaming giant Netflix has boarded Mandarin-language series “Rise of Phoenixes,” from China’s Croton Media. It will be available on the platform outside China from Sept. 14. “Phoenixes” is a 70-episode series loosely based on “Huang Quan,” a novel by Tianxia Guiyuan, and co-produced by Netflix along with Croton Media (China Syndication), K. Pictures, Hao Mai Culture, iQIYI, COL Group and New Film Association.

It marks the small-screen debut of actress Ni Ni and co-stars Chun Kun. Other notables include Shen Yan and Liu Haibo (“Chinese Style Relationship”) as directors, and William Chang Suk-ping (“The Grandmaster,” “In the Mood for Love,”) as artistic director and costume designer. Continue reading

Jia Zhangke discusses “Ash Is Purest White”

Source: Global Times (8/30/18)
Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke talks about ‘Ash is Purest White’ and the evolution of his career
By Wei Xi

Jia Zhangke Photo: Li Hao/ GT

In a way Chinese director Jia Zhangke has made himself a symbol for Chinese movies today, or at least a particular genre within them.

The Shanxi Province-born filmmaker started from humble beginnings working on “underworld” independent projects not approved by mainstream studios. Now, two decades later, he is seen as a heroic figure whose art house films can stand out in a market dominated by commercial films.

Changes in the market and with the director himself have enabled this to happen. Chinese movie audiences are more willing to spend money to see a wider range of works, while Jia, as most people do as they age, has learned to balance his vision for a film and market demands as well as becoming more experienced in dealing with government bureaucracy. Continue reading