Top grossing films of 2018

Source: China Daily (7/10/18)
Top 10 highest-grossing 2018 films in the Chinese market
By Zhang Xingjian |

The Chinese film industry has gained momentum in the first half of 2018.

According to the State Administration of Radio and Television, as of June 30 the 2018 box office for Chinese movies reached at 32.03 billion yuan ($4.84 billion), a year-on-year increase of 17.82 percent; the total number of people watching movies was 901 million, an increase of 15.34 percent.

More specifically, the domestic film box office was 18.965 billion yuan, an increase of 80.10 percent that accounted for 59.21 percent of total box office share.

Of the top 10, three were six domestically produced films, and the remaining four were imports.

Check out the current top 10 highest-grossing movies below.

A poster of the film Forever Young [Photo/Mtime]

No. 10 Forever Young
Box office: 747 million yuan
Release date: Jan 12, 2018
Genre: Drama and romance
Cast: Zhang Ziyi, Chen Chang, Huang Xiaoming Continue reading

Dying to Survive

Source: Quartz (7/5/18)
China’s next box office hit? A dark comedy about smuggling in cancer drugs from India
By Echo Huang

An illustration of Dying to Survive. (Dying to Survive/Weibo)

“Over the years since I became ill, the drugs have cost me my home and bled my family dry. Sir, can you tell me which family doesn’t have a patient, and can you guarantee that you’ll have a lifetime free of illness?”

The words are spoken by an elderly Chinese leukemia patient to a policeman confiscating her smuggled cancer drugs in the movie Dying to Survive, which opens nationwide in mainland China today (July 5). It already looks set to be a major hit, having won acclaim when it debuted at the Shanghai Film Festival last month and racked up thousands of raves on Chinese film portal Douban after preview screenings. At a show in Beijing this week, the audience stood for a standing ovation as the credits rolled. Continue reading

Shanghai Film Fest concludes

Source: SupChina (7/5/18)
Recently Concluded Shanghai International Film Festival Seeks International Cooperation
Swiss-Mongolian drama ‘Out of Paradise’ won Best Feature Film, while Tibetan director Sonthar Gyal won the jury prize for ‘Ala Changso.’
By Ying Wang

The 21st Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) concluded on June 25, having showcased 500 films in 30 categories across 55 countries. Out of Paradise, directed by Batbayar Chogsom, won Best Feature Film, while Ala Changso from Tibetan director Sonthar Gyal 松太加 won the Jury Grand Prix. (Gyal also won Best Screenplay, an award shared with Tashi Dawa.)

As the only Chinese film festival recognized by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF), SIFF has always carried with it lofty expectations, for both filmmakers looking for business opportunities and audience-goers seeking the season’s best movies, i.e., films from the “hot summer season” (暑期档 shǔqī dàng). This year’s festival ended with 468,000 tickets sold, a 9.4 percent increase from last year. Continue reading

Ideology and Utopia in China’s New Wave Cinema

Dear Colleagues,

I’m pleased to announce the publication of my book Ideology and Utopia in Chinas New-Wave Cinema: Globalization and Its Chinese Discontents by Palgrave Macmillan. This book investigates the ways in which New Wave filmmakers represent China in this age of neoliberal reform. Analyzing this paradigm shift in independent cinema, this text explores the historicity of the cinematic form and its cultural-political visions. Through a close reading of the narrative strategy of key films in New Wave Cinema, I study the movement’s impact on film, literature, culture and politic.

Table of Contents


  1. China’s “New Wave Cinema” in the Era of Globalization
  2. The Arrival ofPostsocialism: Silence, Sound and Fury
  3. The Fate and Fantasy of China’s “New Poor”
  4. The Taste and Tragedy of China’s “Middle Class”
  5. Memoire of Socialismandthe Chinese Enlightenment
  6. Elitism of Populism? The Problematic of Imagining the Other

Conclusion: The Politics of Dignity and the Destiny of China’s New Wave Cinema

For more information and book blurbs, click:

Xiaoping Wang <>

China caps film star pay

Source: The Guardian (6/28/18)
China caps film star pay, citing ‘money worship’ and fake contracts
Lead actors’ pay packets restricted to 70% of total wages for the cast of a show
By Lily Kuo

‘Yin-yang’ contracts said to belong to Fan Bingbing were posted online.

‘Yin-yang’ contracts said to belong to Fan Bingbing were posted online. Photograph: Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Chinese authorities are capping the salaries of celebrities, blaming the entertainment industry for encouraging “money worship” and “distorting social values”.

The salaries of on-screen performers should be capped at 40% of the total production costs, according to a joint notice from five government agencies including China’s tax authority, the television and film regulator, and the propaganda department. Leading actors should receive no more than 70% of total wages for the cast, according to the announcement, published in Xinhua. Continue reading

Before the Revolution

Source: NY Review of Books (6/7/18)
Before the Revolution
By Louisa Chiang and Perry Link

Little Reunions
by Eileen Chang, translated from the Chinese by Jane Weizhen Pan and Martin Merz
New York Review Books, 332 pp., $16.95

Forever Young
a film directed by Li Fangfang


Eileen Chang, Hong Kong, circa 1954

In 2012, as he ascended to the top of the Chinese Communist Party and its government, Xi Jinping began giving speeches about a “Chinese Dream”: China was to become wealthy, powerful, beautiful, and unified. Of these four goals, wealth and power were especially important because, in an official narrative that had been repeated for decades in schools and the media, China for too long had been bullied by Western powers.

The sense of national humiliation that has seeped into popular consciousness in China has, for many, led to a deep ambivalence toward the West: Chinese admire its wealth, modernity, and freedoms, yet we are rivals, not friends. China’s great modern writer Lu Xun (1881–1936) several times observed that his fellow Chinese look either up at the West or down on it—never straight across. The usual results are caricatures that further impede the possibility of getting a clear look. Continue reading

Documentary Film, Regional, Theoretical and Political Parameters

Documentary Film, Regional, Theoretical and Political Parameters
Academy of Film
School of Communication
Hong Kong Baptist University
Date: 25 -27 June 2018 (Mon-Wed)
Conference Venue: CVA1022, Communication and Visual Arts Building, HKBU, 5 Hereford Road, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong.

Screening Venue: CVA104

June 25 (Mon)

Panel 1: HK Documentary Film       1010-1250pm

Chair: Dr. Lo Wai Luk (HKBU)

  1. Ms. Angelina Chen (Filmmaker)
  2. Ms. Tammy Cheung (Independent Filmmaker)

  3. Ms. Lo Yan Wai Connie (Documentary Film Director)
    Title: “How Patriotism Drives the 67 Riots?”

4.  Dr. Kenny Ng (HKBU)
Title: “In the Mood for Change: Chan Tze-woon’s Mockumentary and Documentary (Yellowing) of the 2014 Umbrella Movement”

5.   Dr. Winnie Yee (The University of HK)
Title: “In Search of the Disappearing Rhymes: Topographical Writings In Three HK Documentary Films”

Continue reading

Tighter regulations on film and tv dramas

Source: Sup China (6/12/18)
Internal Memo Reveals Tighter Regulations On Chinese Films And Television Dramas

Censorship of Chinese films and TV programs has been bad recently, and it’s about to get worse. That’s the takeaway from an internal document circulating in the Chinese entertainment industry.

The memo (in Chinese), obtained and shared by WeChat blogger Xiaode Zhang 晓得张, is allegedly from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (see this piece on recent developments at the organization known as SAPPRFT).

In the document, the government encourages content that showcases “people’s happiness” and features important upcoming events, such as the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the PRC in 2019, and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s 100th anniversary in 2021. Continue reading

Crackdown on film props in HK

Source: NYT (6/1/18)
A Crackdown on Film Props Angers Hong Kong’s Cinephiles
By Mike Ives and Tiffany May

The cast and crew of “Trivisa” at the Hong Kong Film Awards last year. On Thursday, two people involved in the film’s production were given suspended sentences for possession of counterfeit money — bills the defendants said were merely props.CreditAnthony Wallace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

HONG KONG — Counterfeit money is hidden. Police uncover the stash. Justice is served.

It may sound like a film noir plot, but the fake bills had been used as props in an award-winning crime thriller filmed in Hong Kong. And the two suspects — who received suspended four-month sentences on Thursday — were not hardened criminal counterfeiters but members of a film production crew.

The question, local cinephiles say, is why the police even bothered to seek charges.

They say the case illustrates how onerous rules are needlessly hampering a local industry whose golden age of Bruce Lee kung fu films and Wong Kar-wai dramas seems long past, and which is now struggling to competeagainst rising competition from studios in South Korea and mainland China. Continue reading

Bi Zhifei defends “worst film on earth”

Source: Sup China (5/31/18)
Director Stubbornly Defends The Worst Film On Earth
By Jiayun Feng

Director Bi Zhifei 毕志飞, 39 years old, needs you to know that by no means is he getting over his debut film Pure Hearts: Into Chinese Showbiz 纯洁心灵, which was a failure, both critically and commercially. You can see nearly 50,000 negative reviews of the film on (in Chinese), one of China’s biggest and most trusted movie review and culture websites.

The reviews on global movie rating site are no better: “Beyond description awful,” “Awkwardly amateur and terrible,” and “The worst film on Earth” are the top three comments. Continue reading

Johnnie To, godfather of gangster films

Source: Taipei Times (5/19/18)
Johnnie To, still the godfather of gangster films
As Hong Kong’s once-thriving film industry sees a continual decline in production, Johnnie To represents a rare breed of filmmaker with his consistent and diversified output of films
By Paige Lim  /  Contributing reporter in Udine, Italy

Johnnie To at last month’s Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy, where a restored version of his 2004 judo drama, Throw Down, premiered. Photo courtesy of the Far East Film Festival

The name Johnnie To (杜琪峯) is ubiquitous in Hong Kong cinema, but the prolific director and producer claims he might have never ended up making films, if it wasn’t for a stroke of luck 45 years ago.

As a then broke and unemployed 17-year-old, To joined Hong Kong’s leading television station TVB (Television Broadcasts Limited) on a whim, with no clue that it would eventually lead him to his true calling.

“I really just needed a job and some money. It wasn’t my choice, but I happened to be assigned to the drama department,” he says. “If I had been sent to the engineering department, I might have ultimately become an engineer.” Continue reading

China Bound, 1964

Source: LARB, China Channel (5/10/18)
China Bound, 1964
By Bill Callahan

Beijing before the start of the Cultural Revolution – a video by Bill Callahan

In the early 1960s, after being embarrassed at diplomatic events by the mistakes of his interpreters, Zhou Enlai decided that the Foreign Ministry needed to recruit English native speakers to train a new cadre of translators. Australians Colin and Alyce Mackerras answered Zhou’s call, and in August 1964 went to teach English at the Beijing Foreign Languages Institute for two years. Bill Callahan’s short video ‘China Bound 1964’ explores Colin’s experiences as he encountered a radically different way of life. Leaving China in September 1966, he witnessed the transformation of Chinese society provoked by the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.

The film shows how the fine-grained experience of everyday life – teaching class, riding a bike, having a baby – can convey unexpected meanings about grand geopolitical events. With thanks to Bill, ‘China Bound 1964’ is embedded below and also streamable on Vimeo:

People’s Republic of Desire

Source: Slate (4/25/18)
A Documentary Reveals the Dangerous Fickleness of Online Fame in China
In The People’s Republic of Desire, Hao Wu films the lonely shadows where the lines between online and offline dissolve.

“Should I be ashamed? How about you?” The 21-year-old woman stares into her webcam, eyes flat under heavy false eyelashes and her long hair parted, half spilling over her left shoulder. “You self-righteous douchebags!”

It’s taken Shen Man just three years to amass a following of 5 million fans by singing, chatting, and flirting online as a hostess on the Chinese livestreaming platform YY. With large eyes, porcelain skin, and a tapered chin, Shen Man matches the modern Chinese ideal of doll-like beauty. Her voice is usually soft, almost cooing. She’s had plastic surgery to augment her nose, eyelids, temples, and chin, and been professionally coached in how, precisely, to tilt her head and lilt her voice—all preparation to become a virtual girlfriend to lonely hearts across China. Continue reading

A migrant worker’s struggle

BBC Capital (4/17/18)
‘I hadn’t been home for three years’: One migrant’s struggle
China is home to nearly 300 million migrant workers who must leave the countryside for difficult, dangerous jobs in the big city.

Guo Jie, a migrant worker in Shanghai, makes a living by loading enormous stacks of polystyrene foam boxes on her bike, pedalling around Shanghai to re-sell them to wholesalers.

Unwieldly, dangerous and by her own admission a bit scary, it’s a job that proves a challenge to navigate busy roads. It also hints at the struggles the nearly 300 million rural migrant workers face in China. As their country undergoes rapid development, many people from rural communities must leave home behind to look for jobs in the city, where there are more opportunities. Continue reading

First gay-ish film widely released

Source: Sixth Tone (4/16/18)
First Gay-ish Film Widely Released in China
Despite suspected cuts from media regulators, advocates see ‘Looking for Rohmer’ as an important step toward LGBT acceptance.
By Qian Zhecheng

A promotional poster for the recently released film ‘Looking for Rohmer.’

Gay cinemagoers in China are finding “Looking for Rohmer” a bit of a letdown.

Long heralded on Chinese social media as the first gay-themed film to be approved for nationwide release, “Looking for Rohmer” — also known by its prerelease title, “Seek McCartney” — premiered on Friday to mixed reviews. When Sixth Tone’s reporter attended a Shanghai screening on Friday evening, the only three other viewers in the theater were all gay men.

After the final credits, a 35-year-old consultant told Sixth Tone that “Looking for Rohmer” was more arthouse film than “gay film.” He declined to give his name for fear of publicly revealing his sexuality. Continue reading