Animator Dai Tielang dies

Source: ACAS (Association for Chinese Animation Studies) (9/4/19)
Dai Tielang (1930-2019) Passed Away on September 4, 2019

Dai Tielang, widely known as the “father” of Police Chief Black Cat (Heimao jingzhang, 1984-1987), passed away at 8:40pm on September 4, 2019. Dai was born in Singapore in 1930. He graduated from the Animation Department of the Beijing Film Academy in 1953 and joined the Shanghai Animation Film Studio in the same year. He was an animation designer for a long time before starting to work as a director in 1979. His animated directorial debut was The Hens’ Relocation to a New Home (Muji banjia, cel animation, 1979). His films, often featuring scientific subject matter and catering to the interest of children, were very popular among young audiences. He also worked as art designer and screenwriter for his own films. From 1984-1987, he directed a well-known TV animation series Police Chief Black Cat, which won the first “Calf Award” (Tongniu jiang) in China in 1985. His film My Friend the Little Dolphin (Wode pengyou xiao haitun, cel animation, 1980) won the President’s Silver Award at the Italy International Children and Youth Film Festival.

HK Cinema through a Global Lens MOOC


Registration is now open for the seventh 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 September 17, 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

China Brand Insider

Dear Media Friend,

The publisher of China Film Insider today announced the launch of China Brand Insider, a new weekly business publication specifically focused on the business of brand integration in Chinese entertainment.

China Brand Insider will act as a key source of news and insights for the business of brand integration in the world’s most dynamic consumer culture. The first issue can be viewed here.

The weekly newsletter, written in English, features original content, case studies, and takeaways from the latest Chinese-language news on the relationship between brands and entertainment. CBI as it is known, will also develop in-depth reports and case studies as well as live events to deeply cover the rapid rise of this industry.

For more information, please see the attached press release. Let us know if you have further questions.

Best Regards,
Chen Zeng
China Film Insider

China bans Golden Horse participation

Source: Taipei Times (8/8/19)
China bans Golden Horse participation
JUMP CUT: The film festival’s organizing committee said that the jury process and all events would continue as planned, despite the absence of Chinese participants
By Reuters, BEIJING and TAIPEI

Chinese director Zhang Yimou holds his award for Best Director at the 55th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei on Nov. 17 last year. Photo: AP

The China Film Administration yesterday said that it was blocking the Chinese movie industry from participating in the Golden Horse Awards, without a giving a reason.

China Film News, a magazine published by the agency, made the announcement on its official WeChat account.

“China Film Administration says that it will suspend mainland movies and their personnel from participating in 2019’s 55th Golden Horse Awards,” it said.

The move comes after the annual event, the Chinese-speaking world’s version of the Oscars, became a lightning rod for questions about Taiwanese independence last year, sparking a debate between Taiwanese and Chinese stars, as well as netizens. Continue reading

A City Called Macau

Source: SCMP (7/3/19)
A City Called Macau film review: Bai Baihe in tale of misplaced affection and gambling addiction
Film suffers from the fact that, while its three lead actors give credible performances, none of their characters is sympathetic enough to carry its story. The tale of a casino broker who funds wealthy gamblers but drops her guard when she falls for an artist turned gaming addict requires a suspension of disbelief
By Edmund Lee

Bai Baihe in a still from A City Called Macau (category IIA; Mandarin, Cantonese), directed by Li Shaohong. Wu Gangand Huang Jue co-star.

Bai Baihe in a still from A City Called Macau (category IIA; Mandarin, Cantonese), directed by Li Shaohong. Wu Gangand Huang Jue co-star.

A City Called Macau [媽閣是座城] is a glossy, episodic tale of misplaced affection and gambling addiction set in the Chinese casino city between the early 2000s and 2014, when China’s anti-corruption campaign put a halt to the ferocious growth in its gaming revenue.

The first film since 2007’s The Door by Li Shaohong, one of China’s Fifth Generation directors, who is best known for Bloody Morning, it is an adaptation of Yan Geling’s 2012 novel of the same name. Yan wrote the script with the help of two other writers, Lu Wei and Chan Man-keung. Continue reading

Asian Women Filmmakers on Global Screens–cfp

ASIAN WOMEN FILMMAKERS ON GLOBAL SCREENS: Networks, Circuits, and Community Connections
International Conference
March 27 and 28, 2020
Center for the Study of Globalization and Cultures,
Faculty of Arts, University of Hong Kong

Women filmmakers are severely underrepresented in general film distribution (theatrical and auxiliary), film festivals and awards: a phenomenon that adversely affects the visibility of female filmmakers from Asia. However, there has been little concrete investigation into the mechanisms that underpin the status quo. Through engaging international specialists on women in film, this conference seeks to dissect the system, pinpoint the weak spots and identify a possible remedial course of action toward improving the situation of women filmmakers.  The goal of our conversation will not only be to increase knowledge on these matters but to make practical recommendations to the film industry, film festivals, and other institutions. Continue reading

Remembering Peng Xiaolian

Remembering Writer-director Peng Xiaolian
Louisa Wei

November 2003, Xiaolian (right) and Louisa (middle) were filming with Komatsu Ran (left) in Keio University, Tokyo Japan.

Film director and writer Peng Xiaolian 彭小莲 passed away on June 19, 2019. Below I share some memories about her.

In May 2003, Shanghai film director Peng Xiaolian called me and asked if I was interested in working on a documentary about the “Hu Feng Counterrevolutionary Clique” case (the PRC’s first large-scale literary persecution). By that point, I had only met her once at the Hong Kong International Film Festival of 2002, but we had been writing to each other for about two years. What’s more important is that I had already read her book about her parents: Their Times (他们的岁月). I agreed to work with her on the documentary almost right away and told her I would start to look for funding. I called her back after just a few hours, because I found that we could apply to the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam’s script development grant, but we only had one week before the deadline. Xiaolian sent me a story in Chinese the next day, and a day later I came up with a proposal and a working title for the film: Storm under the Sun (红日风暴). I couriered the proposal four days later. At the end of June, we were notified that we were one of the 17 recipients of funding out of 180 applicants, though it was only 4000 euros. In July, we started filming in Shanghai. We got a fast start indeed. The path of my life as an assistant professor suddenly changed. Continue reading

White Snake: Origins review

Source: ACAS (6/24/19)
Queering an Icon, Becoming a Demon: A Review of White Snake: Origins
By Liang Luo

The 2019 animated film White Snake: Origins (Baishe yuanqi), co-produced by Beijing-based Light Chaser Animation and Warner Bros., premiered on January 11 throughout China. It opens with an innovative, hybrid style of ink-painting 3D animation.[1] In the one-minute opening sequence, two snakes who have transformed into beautiful women, White Snake and Green Snake, and their surrounding environment are outlined in charming ink brush strokes. This distinctive aesthetic style is reminiscent of traditional landscape paintings as seen in China, Japan, Korea, and India, as well as in Mizoguchi Kenji’s reinvention of this style in the 1953 live action film Tale of Moonlight and Rain (Ugetsu), one of the first postwar Japanese films with a “White Snake” theme.[2] Continue reading

The 800 Hundred pulled from Shanghai Film Fest

Source: SCMP (6/17/19)
Why the first Chinese Imax war film The Eight Hundred was pulled from Shanghai film festival
By Elaine Yao
The film, telling the story of the defence of the Sihang Warehouse against the Japanese army, was cancelled for ‘technical reasons’. The cancellation led to online anger with some saying the film was cancelled for glorifying the Chinese Nationalist army.

Wang Qianyuan (top) and Zhang Junyi in The Eight Hundred, a film about the Battle of Shanghai which was pulled from the Shanghai International Film Festival.

Wang Qianyuan (top) and Zhang Junyi in The Eight Hundred, a film about the Battle of Shanghai which was pulled from the Shanghai International Film Festival.

The official release date of China-produced World War II epic The Eight Hundred is in the balance after its world premiere at the 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival was cancelled. The decision came to light one day before the opening of the festival, which runs from June 15 to June 24.

The official Weibo account of the film said the premiere, scheduled for its opening day, was cancelled due to technical reasons. A series of promotional events planned for the film at the festival were also cancelled. They included a screening on Tuesday at Tongji University in Shanghai, and sessions at which cast and crew members were to meet the media and public in Shanghai. Continue reading

Queer Sinofuturisms–cfp

Special Issue of Screen Bodies (5.2, December 2020): Queer Sinofuturisms

Guest Editors: Ari Heinrich, University of California, San Diego; Howard Chiang, University of California, Davis; and Ta-wei Chi, National Chengchi University

This special issue on “Queer Sinofuturisms” aims to explore how artists, writers, and videographers working in Sinophone contexts use science to envision non-normative gender and erotic expressions in relation to the corporeal future of humanity. By investigating visions of the future that incorporate queerness and creative applications of biotechnology, “Queer Sinofuturisms” on one hand aims to counter pervasive techno-orientalist discourses that frame “Asian” technological futures as strictly dystopian (and straight by default). On the other, it responds to a heteronormative presumption in the recent vogue for Chinese science fiction in translation:  While many of these outstanding works challenge readers to reassess real world problems like neoliberal economic inequalities and environmental devastation, certain heteronormative values tend to remain unquestioned both in content and in reception, a structural limit on our capacity to envision genuinely innovative social formations for the “future.”  What happens, this issue of Screen Bodies asks, if we simultaneously destabilize techno-orientalist narratives of the future while queering assumptions about the heteronormativity so often inscribed upon that future in mainstream iterations and embodiments? Continue reading

Indiescape HK and the Post-Handover Film World–cfp

Ex-position Feature Topic Call for Papers
(Guest Editor: Kenny Kwok Kwan Ng, Hong Kong Baptist University)
Publication Date: December 2019 (Issue No. 42)
Submission Deadline: July 1, 2019

“Independent cinema” in Hong Kong has gained much currency both in academia and in film production and reception circles since the 1997 handover. Despite the fact that the term itself is frequently invoked in critical discourse and film festival programming, the meanings and contours of independent cinema as it is practiced in Hong Kong remain a matter of debate, except for the general consensus that being “independent” in moviemaking confers a disposition of distancing from the mainstream film industry in terms of styles, genres, modes of production and exhibition, financing, or public reception. Independent filmmakers can be bona fide auteurs who have greater control over the subject matter and stylistic choices of their works compared with their mainstream counterparts. Still, creative autonomy is never absolute and always comes with a cost. Filmmakers have to play by the rules of the emerging habitus of independent cinema, while the dynamic and ambivalent exchanges between independent and mainstream cinema are constantly at play in Hong Kong when an independent filmmaker (or film) enters mainstream production and circulation. Continue reading

Jia Zhangke as NPC deputy

Source: China Daily (4/5/19)
Filmmaker sees sector develop a new story
By Xu Wei | China Daily

Jia Zhangke, a key figure in China’s “sixth generation” of filmmakers, attends the launch event for his film Mountains May Depart, Still Life, with his wife and lead actress Zhao Tao. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Focusing the camera on people’s issues and giving them a voice mark NPC deputy’s creative approach to plotlines

For Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke, the role of a deputy to the National People’s Congress has given him a wider horizon, and an even deeper understanding of people and society.

Jia, an essential figure in China’s “sixth generation” of filmmakers and one of the country’s most inventive and engaged directors, has also found similarities between filmmaking and working as a lawmaker.

A native of Linfen, Shanxi province, Jia has long concerned himself with the effect of enormous social and economic forces on the experiences of individuals. Continue reading

‘Me and My Motherland’ to celebrate PRC’s 70th anniversary

Source: Global Times (3/21/19)
Chen Kaige’s new film project ‘Me and My Motherland’ to celebrate PRC’s 70th anniversary

From left: Chinese filmmakers Wen Muye, Xue Xiaolu, Zhang Yibai, Chen Kaige, Huang Jianxin, Guan Hu and Ning Hao pose for a photo at a media event for Me and My Motherland in Beijing on Wednesday. Photo: Liu Zhongyin/GT

“Back in 2008, my mother called me to ask if I was involved in preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. I wasn’t then, but this time I can confidently say that I will be responsible right from start for producing Me and My Motherland,” Chinese director Zhang Yibai said at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday announcing his new film project.

Zhang, however, will not be alone. He is one of seven directors that will work on the film, an anthology that will tell different stories about ordinary Chinese during major historical moments since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary on October 1. Continue reading