Negotiating In-Between: On New-Generation
Filmmaking and Jia Zhangke’s Films

By Shuqin Cui

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 18, no. 2 (Fall 2006), pp. 98-130

“Negotiating in Between” argues that new-generation filmmaking, personal and rebellious in its origin, has never ceased to negotiate a space between the periphery and the center, the local and the global. At a moment when social-political as well as commercial forces govern the filmmaking industry, directors of the new generation choose either to return to history via personal memory or to encounter the global through a local perspective. Taking Jia Zhangke’s four films as textual evidence, this essay suggests that Jia’s work offers an idiosyncratic lens on China’s entry into a new world system defined as transnational globalization. Affiliation with the global accelerates a market-driven economy. Encounters between the local and the global, however, give rise to anxiety about one’s identity and ambiguity about one’s sense of place. Examination of Jia Zhangke’s glocal mise-en-scene and pop culture modes reveals how a film director and his characters negotiate between the margins and mainstream.