Animation as a Way of Seeing

[Online Lecture] Animation as a Way of Seeing: The Afterlife of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, organized by University of Hong Kong, University Museum and Art Gallery
University of Hong Kong – Lecture Series on Contemporary and Modern Chinese Art, University Museum and Art Gallery (2022/3)

Event Details

UMAG Lecture Series (2022/3): Re-examining Modernity and Contemporaneity through Chinese Art
Animation as a Way of Seeing: The Afterlife of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy

Date: Thursday 31 March 2022
Time: 2:00–3:00pm HKT (7:00–8:00am BST / 30 March 11:00pm–31 March 0:00am PDT)

This lecture traces the afterlife of Chinese painting and calligraphy on the animation screen. We will bring into the critical spotlight Xu Bing’s 2012 animated video, “The Character of Characters” (Hanzi de xingge), which remediates Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322)’s painting and calligraphy. The new possibilities afforded by calligraphic animation are negotiated through a series of oscillations between image and text, spatiality and temporality, and diegetic and nondiegetic conventions. The dialogue that takes place between shu (books, written characters, and the act of writing) and the computer enables us to seek, pinpoint, and scrutinize a powerful intermedial creativity and its implications in an age of global media mix. We will pose a counter-historical question: has animation, as a way of seeing, always been with us, even before animation was invented? Continue reading

Global Storytelling 1.2

Issue 2 of “Global storytelling: Journal of Digital and Moving Images” is out, featuring contributions from Thomas Schatz, Peter Biskind, Gina Marchetti, and Harriet Evans, among others, and covering a wide range of topics from superheroes to gay porn on twitter: & a fresh look at “Nomadland” (Chloe Zhao, 2020), “Nomadland”: An American or Chinese Story?”:

Ying Zhu
Founder & Chief Editor
Global Storytelling: Journal of Digital and Moving Images

Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in Twenty-First-Century China

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Liang Luo’s review of Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in Twenty-First-Century China: Morning Sun in the Tiny Times, by Hui Faye Xiao. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to media studies book review editor, Jason McGrath, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in
Twenty-First-Century China: Morning Sun in the Tiny Times

By Hui Faye Xiao

Reviewed by Liang Luo

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright December, 2021)

Hui Faye Xiao, Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in Twenty-First-Century China: Morning Sun in the Tiny Times London: Routledge, 2020. 236 pp. ISBN 9781032084695 (paperback); ISBN 9780367345518 (hardcover)

Hui Faye Xiao’s Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in Twenty-First-Century China: Morning Sun in the Tiny Times is an exciting and rewarding read. It is part of the Contemporary China series from Routledge, a series successfully bridging the social sciences and humanities. Xiao’s introduction and conclusion bind her central case studies together and offer a vision of hope amid competing trends of crisis and reinvention in what she calls the “youth economy” of twenty-first-century China.

In her introductory chapter 1, Xiao reads contemporary Chinese youth culture in the three keys of “youth economy,” “youth crisis,” and “youth reinvention.” Throughout her investigation, Xiao pays close attention to the agency, initiative, and creativity of the younger generation. She further highlights the power of the ongoing digital revolution in augmenting the self-expression and critical social engagement of Chinese youths. According to Xiao, the three keys of economy, crisis, and reinvention work together to best represent the dynamic interactions among different forces in the contemporary Chinese youth culture scene. First, “youth economy” emphasizes that Chinese youth culture, like any youth culture, is highly commercialized; situated in a roaring market economy under globalization, it also represents a departure from China’s socialist past, although historical continuities and resonances are important for Xiao’s nuanced articulations of the contemporary phenomena as well. Second, “youth crisis” refers to how the profit-driven neoliberal economy accelerates the division, differentiation, and fragmentation of Chinese youths along class, gender, ethnicity, educational, and regional lines. Third, “youth reinvention” articulates how the creative economy generates new opportunities for younger generations and may give birth to possible new youth subjects pushing forward social and cultural changes. Here the aesthetics and politics of youthful smallness, often associated with marginalized identities, emerge as central threads (23). Xiao insists on the creative potentials of the “small” identities, genres, and media studied in her book, arguing for their powers for coalition-building and reinvention among marginalized social groups. Continue reading

Major revolutionary films and TV dramas from 2021

Source: China Daily (12/15/21)
Year-ender: Major revolutionary films and TV dramas from 2021

This year has witnessed a number of films and TV dramas take revolutionary history as their subject, especially the early history of the Communist Party of China, as 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of CPC. Let’s take a look at some major productions.

A still from the film, The Battle at Lake Changjin. [Photo provided to China Daily]

1. The Battle at Lake Changjin 

Set during the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53), the film centers on a heroic company of the Chinese People’s Volunteers army, reflecting CPV soldiers’ iron will and great spirit to safeguard the then newly founded People’s Republic of China.

Resonating with an audience running into the millions and enhancing their pride in China’s great achievements, the film became hugely popular, smashing a total of 26 records, mainly in terms of box-office and admission figures.

The 176-minute film, which cost 1.3 billion yuan ($202.7 million), became the most expensive of its kind in China. By Nov 24, its overall box office surpassed 5.69 billion yuan ($891.1 million), replacing Wolf Warrior 2 at the top of China’s all-time box office charts. Continue reading

BFA performance art protest

Source: China Digital Times (12/1/21)
Translation: Blanket Censorship of Performance Art Piece Protesting Beijing Film Academy Campus Lockdown
Posted by Anne Henochowicz

A male student, wearing a face mask as a blindfold, lounges in a small cage as part of a performance art piece.

A performance art piece by a student who sat in a cage to protest a draconian lockdown of the Beijing Film Academy (BFA) recently went viral, and was censored just as quickly. Like many other Chinese citizens, university students have been living under strict lockdowns, and are beginning to chafe at the restrictions—and at administrators’ lack of responsiveness to students’ concerns. With the appearance of the omicron variant and fears of new COVID-19 outbreaks if protocols are relaxed, even more Chinese schools and universities are instituting lockdowns.

The following is a full translation of the CDT Chinese article “Blanket Censorship of Performance Art Piece Protesting Beijing Film Academy Campus Lockdown”:

On November 22, a performance art piece by a Beijing Film Academy student began making the rounds on Weibo: the student sits in a cage, wearing a face mask over his eyes like a blindfold. A sign atop the cage reads, “Don’t leave the cage unless strictly necessary” (非必要不出笼); an online commentary on the performance notes that the sign is a riff on the school’s unwritten COVID-19 policy, “Don’t leave campus unless strictly necessary” (非必要不出校), interpreting the performance as a critique of Beijing Film Academy’s brute, indefinite lockdown of its campus. Continue reading

At Home with External Propaganda

Source: China Media Project (12/8/21)
At Home with External Propaganda
The Battle at Lake Changjin, hailed inside China as a film transforming the production value and appeal of films that tow the CCP line, may have broken domestic box office records this year. But the struggle for global audiences will be far more difficult to win. And China may not be listening.
By Stella Chen and David Bandurski

Battle of Lake Changjin

The Battle at Lake Changjin (长津湖), the Chinese war epic that recently became the country’s top-grossing film of all time, tells the story of self-sacrificing volunteer soldiers who bravely take on American troops at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War. Commissioned by the Central Propaganda Department with a budget of over 200 million dollars, the film has been praised inside China as a milestone both for China’s film industry and for the telling of the “China story.”

But while The Battle at Lake Changjin may have been a domestic success, earning more than 895 million dollars by the end of November, it has seriously misfired internationally, and the self-congratulatory tone of much coverage inside China points to the continued myopia of the country’s media system when it comes to crafting stories the rest of the world can relate to.

Earlier this week, the Economic Daily, a central newspaper run by the State Council, hailed the fact that in a period of 10 days following its first screening in Hong Kong on November 11, The Battle at Lake Changjin had brought in more than 10 million Hong Kong dollars in ticket sales. Not only this, said the paper, but the film, which in mainland China had prompted emotional tributes, including a wave of frozen potato eating, had “continued to heat up overseas,” showing in Singapore, the United States and Canada. Continue reading

Beijing Spring documentary review

Source: NYT (12/9/21)
‘Beijing Spring’ Review: The Politics of Aesthetics
This new documentary chronicles the movement for democratic artistic expression that exploded in the wake of the Cultural Revolution in China.
By Devika Girish

Archival footage, as seen in the documentary “Beijing Spring.” Credit…Wang Rui/AC FILMS

Beijing Spring
Directed by Andy Cohen, Gaylen Ross
Documentary, 1h 40m

Can art effect real change in the world? To this ever-urgent question, “Beijing Spring” — a new documentary about the titular movement for democratic expression that exploded in the wake of the Cultural Revolution in China — responds with a resounding yes.

Directed by Andy Cohen with Gaylen Ross, the film focuses on the Stars Art Group, a collective of self-taught practitioners who seized on the tumult after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976 and deployed their art like Molotov cocktails. They circulated their paintings and literature via underground magazines; papered revolutionary poems and calligraphy on the famed Democracy Wall; and, most notably, mounted a show on the exterior of the National Art Museum of China after being denied permission to exhibit within.

Continue reading

Contemporary Murmurings of China’s New Ethnic Minorities

The Chinese Independent Film Archive (CIFA) is pleased to announce ‘Contemporary Murmurings of China’s New Ethnic Minorities – An Online Film Exhibition’.

Curated by filmmaker Gu Xue, this is an exhibition of films by seven young, ethnic minority filmmakers based in and outside China. The films are available for free on the CIFA website till 15 December, while an online discussion with the filmmakers will take place on 11 December, 1.00pm UK time, hosted by Dr Zeng Jinyan (Lund) (registration required).

All are welcome! For links to the films and for the discussion registration, please see:

Posted by: Luke Robinson <>

Conversations with Laha Mebow

EVENT: Conversations with Taiwan Film Director Laha Mebow (with film screening)
Join us for the two conversations with Taiwan indigenous film director Laha Mebow.

Laha Mebow is the first female indigenous film director in Taiwan. After years of living and studying in cities, she returned to her Atayal tribe and directed several films about indigenous people’s life and culture. Her film Hang in There, Kids! (Atayal: Lokah Laqi) was selected as the Taiwanese entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards. Her documentary Ça Fait Si Longtemps focuses on two Taiwan indigenous musicians who were invited to Caledonia for a month of musical exchange with local Kanak musicians. What motivated Laha Mebow to return to the tribe? What challenges do female indigenous filmmakers face in the contemporary Taiwan film industry? How does Laha Mebow tell stories about indigenous children and musicians in her films? And how are we to understand the international connection between indigenous cultures in her films? Join us for the two conversations with Laha Mebow hosted by UBC professor/filmmaker Aynur Kadir and PhD student Yuqing Liu. In the two events, Laha Mebow will share with us her experience of telling Taiwan indigenous stories to the world.

Growing Up Atayal: A Conversation with Director Laha Mebow about Indigenous Feature Filmmaking in Taiwan

Date & Time: Wednesday, November 3, 2021 | 4:00pm-6:00pm (PDT)
Location: online via Zoom
*Conducted in English and Mandarin
Free & open to the public. Registration is required via the link below. Registering once will grant access to both events.
Register here: Continue reading

HK to censor old movies for security breaches

Source: Japan Times (10/27/21)
Hong Kong to censor old movies for security breaches

Going to see a foreign film, or a movie with a subject deemed problematic to the government, could soon be a tall order in Hong Kong, due to new censorship regulations. | REUTERS

Going to see a foreign film, or a movie with a subject deemed problematic to the government, could soon be a tall order in Hong Kong, due to new censorship regulations. | REUTERS

Hong Kong passed a toughened film censorship law on Wednesday empowering authorities to ban past films for “national security” threats and impose stiffer penalties for any breaches in the latest blow to the city’s artistic freedoms.

Authorities have embarked on a sweeping crackdown to root out Beijing’s critics after huge and often violent democracy protests convulsed the city two years ago.

A new China-imposed security law and an official campaign dubbed “Patriots rule Hong Kong” has since criminalized much dissent and strangled the democracy movement.

Films and documentaries have become one of many cultural areas authorities have sought to purge. Continue reading

Chinese Animation and Socialism

Dear Colleagues,

My new book, titled Chinese Animation and Socialism: From Animators’ Perspectives is available for purchase now. It was based on a conference held at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in April 2017. For the book description and table of contents:

For the video trailer of the conference/book:

Sincerely yours,

Daisy Yan Du

U of Maryland position

Assistant Professor in Sinophone Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park

The School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Maryland, College Park, invites applications for a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor in Sinophone Cinema and Media Studies beginning Fall 2022. The successful candidate will be jointly appointed in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Program in Cinema and Media Studies. Qualified candidates will demonstrate recognized potential for excellence in scholarship, as well as interest and experience in teaching a wide range of courses in Chinese language and literature, modern Chinese culture and intellectual history, and film history and theory. Native or near-native fluency in both Mandarin and English is required. PhD must be in hand at time of employment.

The successful candidate will be expected to teach four courses per year (two in East Asian Languages and Cultures and two in Cinema and Media Studies) and to contribute to interdisciplinary initiatives in SLLC and across the university. The School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures is committed to increasing the diversity of the campus community. Candidates should show a strong commitment to teaching and mentoring a diverse student population; candidates who have experience working with a diverse range of faculty, staff, and students and who can contribute to a climate of inclusivity are encouraged to identify their experiences in these areas. Individuals from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.

For full consideration, applicants should submit: a cover letter, CV, a one-page statement of teaching philosophy plus a sample syllabus, a representative writing sample in English of no more than 20 pages, and the names and contact information for three references who may be contacted for confidential letters of recommendation. All materials must be uploaded to the University of Maryland web-based employment application (eTerp) system at by the application deadline of November 22, 2021. This search is contingent upon the availability of funds.

The University of Maryland, College Park, actively subscribes to a policy of equal employment opportunity, and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry or national origin, marital status, genetic information, political affiliation, and gender identity or expression. Minorities and women are encouraged to apply.

Posted by: Chanel A.Briscoe <>

Mulan lecture

What Disney (and the Rest of Us) Can Learn from the Earliest Surviving Mulan Film
Christopher Rea, Professor of Modern Chinese Literature, University of British Columbia

Film to preview: Hua Mu Lan (Mulan Joins the Army, Mulan Congjun, 木蘭從軍, 1939), directed by Richard Poh (Bu Wancang)
Recommended film: Niki Caro, Mulan (2020)

Chinese-language Cinemas: Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan
(Virtual Zoom talks and film screenings)

This weekly series of six virtual lectures and accompanying films is curated by Tanya Shilina-Conte, assistant professor of Global Film Studies in the UB Department of English and curator of the annual riverrun Global Film Series. This virtual series is cosponsored by the UB Confucius Institute and UB Center for Global Film.

To register and obtain links for the lectures and films, please email Continue reading

Wei Desheng events

Wei Te-Sheng, director of “Cape No. 7” and “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale,” will be speaking at two free online events this week. The talks are hosted by the Department of Asian Studies of the University of British Columbia, and sponsored by the Taiwan Ministry of Culture, as part of the speaker series “Indigenous Taiwan, Transpacific Connections.”

Wei will be speaking about the making of, as well as representations of Indigenous peoples in, his films.

On Thursday, October 21 at 4pm Pacific Time, Wei will be in conversation with UBC Assistant Professor of Chinese Popular Culture Dr. Renren Yang.

On Friday, October 22 at 4pm Pacific Time, Wei will be in conversation with UBC Assistant Professor of Indigenous Lifeways in Asia (and Indigenous filmmaker) Dr. Aynur Kadir.

Details and free registration for both events at:

About the “Indigenous Taiwan, Transpacific Connections” speaker series:

The Battle at Lake Changjin

Source: Asia Times (10/11/21)
China’s winter warriors rout US Marines, UK’s MI6
Beijing’s macho nationalism bears fruit as epic Korean War movie sets course to be top global film of 2021

Chinese President Xi Jinping, besieged by crises from China Evergrande to power outages, may take some comfort in recent news: A human wave of enthusiastic citizens is storming his nation’s cinemas.

The historical blockbuster Chinese are watching in record numbers is state-funded Korean War epic Battle at Lake Changjin. Its popularity suggests that Beijing’s drive to inculcate patriotism and machismo is bearing fruit.

Making the story even sweeter for Beijing mandarins, it is based on the true story of a torrid Chinese victory over America’s premier troops.

The December 1950 struggle around the high-altitude Lake Changjin – known in the West as Chosin Reservoir – was fought in one of the harshest battlescapes imaginable. Amid rugged mountain terrain, in sub-zero temperatures, an under-equipped Chinese Army Group forced a division of top-tier US Marines to retreat from North Korea.

And it is not just the US Marine Corps that has fallen to the film’s sword. It has also taken out Britain’s secret intelligence service, MI6. Box office receipts for Battle at Lake Changjin outdid those for the massively anticipated but long-delayed new 007 film, No Time to Die. Continue reading