Best drama series

Source: The China Project (11/14/22)
The best Chinese-language drama series with English subtitles you can stream right now
From an alternate-reality crime show about a sexual assault survivor to a visually stunning fantasy drama featuring a forbidden romance, these are 2022’s best Chinese-language TV series coming out that you can find on popular streaming services.
By Zhao Yuanyuan

A still image from ‘Shards of Her.’

Chinese-language TV series are overshadowed by the more popular offerings from South Korea, but there are a number of noteworthy new Sinophone shows, mostly from Taiwan, that you can binge-watch right now.

Mandarin-language shows are more accessible than ever these days thanks to streaming services such as Netflix, which routinely purchases broadcasting rights for series that generate conversations domestically, and are increasingly working with local creators to co-produce programs with a global reach in mind.

These are the five best Mandarin-language series of 2022 that are available for streaming with English subtitles on Netflix and HBO.

Shards of Her | Official Trailer | Netflix

Shards of Her 她和她的她 tā hé tā de tā
Where to stream: Netflix Continue reading

Volcanic Passions

The Chinese Film Classics project is pleased to announce the publication of Christopher Rea’s translation of the film VOLCANIC PASSIONS 火山情血 (Sun Yu 孫瑜, dir., 1932):

https://chinesefilmclassics.org/volcanic-passions-1932/

ABOUT THE FILM

In a tropical land at the foot of a volcano, “a deep grudge rankles, and ignites!”

This pulpy story of revenge and romance features takes several tried-and-true Lianhua Studio character types—innocent villagers and warlord predators, moralizing men and leggy starlets—and transports them to an exotic South Seas setting. Zheng Junli 鄭君里, who plays the anguished hero, later played the romantic lead in New Women 新女性 (1935) and went on to be a major director, celebrated for Spring River Flows East 一江春水向東流 (1947) and Crows and Sparrows 烏鴉與麻雀 (1949). Hula dancing sequences featuring Li Lili 黎莉莉, an emerging Lianhua star, gesture to her pre-cinema career as a member of Li Jinhui’s 黎錦暉 Bright Moon Song and Dance Troupe, which toured Southeast Asia.

This subtitled version of the film uses an open-access digital copy reproduced from VHS by the Columbia University Library: https://clio.columbia.edu/catalog/14925790?counter=2 Continue reading

Journal of Chinese Cinemas is on Twitter now

Journal of Chinese Cinemas (JCC) has launched a Twitter account to establish a social media presence.

Published by Taylor & Francis, JCC is a major refereed academic publication devoted to the study of film and media as practiced in Chinese-speaking communities. Read its latest issue on film exhibitions in the Chinese film culture here.

Roderic Wang <journalchinesecinemas@gmail.com>

Wang Baoqiang article

I recently published an article that might interest MCLC members. It concerns the comedian Wang Baoqiang, neoliberal subjectiviy, and the man-child trope. Wang Baoqiang is one of the most successful film comedians in China, but the cultural significance of his comedies and star images are underdeveloped in non-Chinese media. My article, “Wang Baoqiang: the Man-Child Bumpkin in Chinese Comedy Films,” investigates two comedies starring Wang, focusing on the tropes “bumpkin,” “holy fool,” and “man-child,” and how they negotiate neoliberal subjectivity in China. Here’s a link to the article published in Genre en séries: cinéma, télévision, médias: https://journals.openedition.org/ges/3209

Yung-Hang Bruce Lai <brucelai@hotmail.com>

Global Sinophonia 2 and 3

Presented by Center for Film and Moving Image Research, Academy of Film, Hong Kong Baptist University

  • Global Sinophonia 2: Five Guys who made a Hong Kong historical drama movie: “Hong Kong 1942”
  • Global Sinophonia 3: Screening & Sharing, “Memories To Choke On Drinks To Wash Them Down”

Global Sinophonia 2: Five Guys who made a Hong Kong historical drama movie: “Hong Kong 1942”

“Hong Kong 1942” is a World War II feature film filmed entirely in Hong Kong with all local actors and film crew. This movie is a small, independent production with a very limited budget and was created with just 5 film crew members during most of the 20-day filming schedule. Filmmaking is like putting together a puzzle, a thousand pieces needed to be assembled to create the final product. Money is not the biggest limitation on a production, it is the ability of the filmmakers to understand how to plot a pathway forward of doing the possible. We will reveal the production process of making Hong Kong 1942, the tips and tricks that every filmmaker should know before rolling into production.

ZOOM ID: https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://hkbu.zoom.us/j/95560798929__;!!KGKeukY!zX1sU6oE8DC4Zj0qbLt16swUx_6VLbxYBRQ7Rez-v3zKmDomL0oK6L_2VVs24IeBvyPiyfF8H3GaU068t19wZJU$
LINK: 955 6079 8929

Speakers:
Grace Yan-yan Mak (Producer), Craig McCourry (Director)
Discussant: Kenny Ng Continue reading

Patriotic blockbuster

Source: The China Project (11/11/22)
‘Home Coming’ and the evolution of the Chinese patriotic blockbuster
Rao Xiaozhi’s evacuation drama is a blend of Party discourse with popular entertainment, targeted at overseas Chinese.
By Amarsanaa Battulga

Still from Home Coming.

Among the patriotic tentpoles that have now become a staple of the Chinese film industry, there has emerged a certain sub-genre in recent years: the evacuation blockbuster. This includes bombastic action titles such as Wolf Warrior 2 and Operation Red Sea, whose storylines are inspired by the real-life evacuation of Chinese citizens from civil war-beset foreign countries.

The latest addition to this list, Home Coming, offers a slightly different take on this formula. Its protagonists are not elite special forces, but unarmed diplomats, and its politics are relatively subtler and targeted at a special group: overseas Chinese.

Continue reading

The Post-Truth World review

Source: Taipei Times (11/4/22)
Movie review: The Post-Truth World
This glossy murder-mystery thriller offers a sharp critique of today’s sensationalist media and raises questions about the pursuit of truth
By Han Cheung / Staff reporter

Edward Chen and Caitlin Fang star in The Post-Truth World. Photos courtesy of Vie Vision Pictures

This is the type of movie that makes people hate journalists. Not only does Chang Hsiao-chuan (張孝全) effortlessly play the stereotypical dogged, slimy reporter who discards any ethical boundaries to get a story, he habitually manipulates facts to boost online views for his floundering news program.

But the grim truth for the industry, as shown in an exaggerated manner in The Post-Truth World (罪後真相) is that clicks rule the news these days, and viewers should not entirely trust the information being presented. Neither should the journalists themselves.

This biting critique of Taiwan’s increasingly sensationalist media landscape is smartly packaged as a glossy murder-mystery thriller, boosted with celebrity cameos. It’s slick and entertaining enough, but it’s the understated complexity of the main characters that makes the film thought-provoking.

Despite his flaws and questionable behavior, Chang’s character, Brother Li-min, somehow still manages to come off as a sympathetic hero. He seems to want to do the right thing, especially at the behest of his late wife, who was an award-winning investigative journalist, but also faces immense pressure from his boss (who at the same time makes righteous comments about delivering fair and balanced news) to get views. Continue reading

On the Video Game Genshin Impact

Source: Association for Chinese Animations Studies (9/29/22)
What is Lost Moving from “Shanzhai” to Global: On the Video Game Genshin Impact (2020)
By Yasheng She

Fig 1: Yujin performing Chinese opera on a stage

What does it take to transcend a national border to be globally recognized, and what are the responsibilities of being on the global stage? I will attempt to answer these two questions in my analysis of three incidents surrounding the open-world roleplaying game Genshin Impact (2020). While video game is distinct from animation, it relies on animation to visualize and communicate the system to the player. Beyond the technical aspects of animation, video games can leverage animation as a cultural currency to reach a broader audience. Genshin takes advantage of the Japanese animation style, or the anime-esque style, to create its global identity and elevate Chinese cultural elements to the global stage. While successfully representing Chinese culture and redefining the label “made-in-China,” Genshin fails in some aspects of embodying non-Chinese cultures. This essay argues that this failure is not only a result of the complicated entanglement between representation and appropriation but also the reality of depending on the anime-esque style to achieve global recognition. Precisely, the anime-esque style elevates any culture if it is recognizably faithful to the anime-esque conventions. Yet, it limits the extent of self-expression, especially those perceived as too alien, confusing, or too racially aware to the assumed global audience.

In 2019, Chinese developer miHoYo announced its open-world roleplaying game Genshin Impact (Genshin) and quickly attracted international attention. The game’s similarity to The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild (BotW), developed and published by Japanese media conglomerate Nintendo, instigated this attention. Outcries of plagiarism and “shanzhai” were so prominent that there were recorded incidents of passionate Chinese fans destroying their game consoles in protest of the game.[1] Intriguingly, the outcries of bad faith mimicry mainly came from China, not Japan, where BotW is published. One word soon took hold of the entire discourse: “shanzhai,” a Chinese neologism for “copycat” or “fake,” that can be translated as “mountain fortress/village.”[2] Continue reading

Lhapal Gyal on the State of Tibetan Cinema

Source: Radii (9/21/22)
Award-Winning Filmmaker Lhapal Gyal on the State of Tibetan Cinema
By Runjie Wang

A vanguard of Tibetan new wave cinema, filmmaker Pema Tseden is internationally renowned for exploring subjectivity and modernity in Tibetan culture. His oeuvre has sparked considerable interest in Tibetan cinema while paving the path for a handful of disciples, among whom tricenarian Lhapal Gyal is gaining significant recognition.

Hailing from Hainan Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Northwest China’s Qinghai province, Gyal was motivated to study film after watching Tseden’s directorial debut, The Silent Holy Stones (2005), in high school. The two eventually connected, and Tseden encouraged Gyal to immerse himself in literature, the backbone of filmmaking.

The aspiring filmmaker then gained the opportunity to cut his teeth by working as an assistant director while Tseden was filming Tharlo (2015).

Then, in 2018, Gyal made waves with his debut feature film, Wangdrak’s Rain Boots, which was selected for the Berlin International Film Festival’s Generation section (films touching on youth culture). The film also earned him the title of ‘Best Director’ at the 12th edition of the FIRST International Film Festival in 2018.

The hour-and-a-half-long film sketches out the inner world of an introverted child living in a Tibetan village and his deep desire for rain after receiving a pair of rain boots. However, the child’s yearning for rain runs in opposition to the desire of other villagers, who want clear skies for the harvest.

Wangdrak’s Rain Boots’ minimalist aesthetics and narrative, marked by a childlike innocence, are reminiscent of Iranian classics such as Abbas Kiarostami’s Where Is the Friend’s House? (1987) and Majid Majidi’s Children of Heaven (1997).

More on: https://radii.co/article/lhapal-gyal-tibetan-cinema

Posted by: Roderic Wang <rodericwang@gmail.com>

Diversifying Tibetan Cinema

Source: The China Project (11/4/22)
Diversifying Tibetan cinema: Q&A with Jigme Trinley, director of ‘One and Four’
Jigme Trinley is an up-and-coming director and the son of the pioneering auteur of Tibetan cinema, Pema Tseden. We discussed what makes Tibetan films Tibetan, the creative process of making his award-winning feature debut, and his experience of “attending” international film festivals in the time of COVID.
By Amarsanaa Battulga

A still from “One and Four”

Jigme Trinley (久美成列 Jiǔměi Chéngliè), a 25-year-old Beijing Film Academy graduate, first appeared on the radar of Sinophone cinema when his feature debut One and Four (一个和四个 Yīgè hé sìgè) premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival last November.

This stylish thriller defies what audiences have come to associate with Tibetan films. There are no mystical rites, no spiritual contemplation, no existential reflection — at least not explicitly. Instead, Trinley treats viewers to guns, poachers, police, and a car chase, all set on a snowy mountain and in a wooden cabin where a forest ranger is visited by strangers one after another.

Continue reading

The Pearl Necklace (1926)

NEW FILM TRANSLATION
The Chinese Film Classics Project is pleased to announce the publication of Christopher Rea’s translation of the silent film “The Pearl Necklace” 一串珍珠 (1926). Watch the film on the Chinese Film Classics website:

https://chinesefilmclassics.org/the-pearl-necklace-1926/ or directly on Youtube:

ABOUT THE FILM

Bling’s the thing! But, in this silent film, a wife’s ostentation gets her family into serious trouble. The Pearl Necklace (1926), also known as A String of Pearls, is famous today less for its conservative morality tale about female vanity than for two sequences of animation, in the opening credits commissioned by the Great Wall Film Company, and at minute 68, when the titular string of pearls rearrange themselves into the word 患禍 MISFORTUNE. Continue reading

Young short-film directors win awards

Source: SCMP (11/1/22)
China’s young short-film directors are winning awards at international festivals – could this new generation of auteurs revive Chinese cinema?
Driven by freedom and ‘a sense of mission’, Chinese short-film makers are gaining international recognition with wins at film festivals from Cannes to London. This comes as Chinese feature films are flagging internationally. Does the success of these young filmmakers herald another golden era for Chinese cinema?
By

A still from The Water Murmurs, a short film directed by Chen Jianying. Chinese short films have enjoyed a recent wave of success at international festivals from Cannes to London.

A still from The Water Murmurs, a short film directed by Chen Jianying. Chinese short films have enjoyed a recent wave of success at international festivals from Cannes to London.

When Southern Afternoon, a short film directed by Chinese filmmaker Lan Tian, was awarded the Sonje Award at the Busan International Film Festival in South Korea on October 14, many thought China’s short-film industry had already had a good finish to the year.

And then three days later, another Chinese short film, I Have No Legs, And I Must Run, by Li Yue, won the Short Film Award at the London Film Festival.

It would appear that short films from China have been rushing to be crowned in recent times. The prizes for Lan and Li’s works follow several others that have made a name for themselves.

The highlight came earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival, where three Chinese short films were recognised.

The Water Murmurs, directed by Chen Jianying, won the Short Film Palme d’Or – the festival’s highest prize for short films. Will You Look At Me, by Huang Shuli, received the first Queer Palm – awarded for brilliance in LGBT+-relevant films – given to China. Somewhere, by Li Jiahe, took second prize in La Cinef, a category for short films from film schools around the world. Continue reading

‘Stonewalling’ shows independent film is still kicking

Source: The China Project (10/28/22)
‘Stonewalling’ shows independent Chinese filmmaking is still kicking
“Stonewalling,” a movie about sexuality and reproduction, was filmed within China, but funded solely from outside sources. It has sidestepped domestic censors and secured international premieres. Could this be a way forward for China’s independent filmmakers?
By Maja Korbecka

Stonewalling, which just had its U.S. premiere at the New York Film Festival, is the third full-length feature directed by Huáng Jì 黄骥 and Ryuji Otsuka. The duo continues to reflect on young women’s sexuality and reproduction in contemporary China, which were also the focus of their two previous films, Egg & Stone (2012) and Foolish Bird (2017).

Huang and Otsuka began their film career in the 2000s, when an independent documentary movement swept across China thanks to the rising availability of DV cameras. Born and raised in Hunan, Huang graduated from the scriptwriting department of Beijing Film Academy in 2007. Tokyo-born Otsuka made documentaries for Japanese television before moving to China in 2005, where he joined a booming independent documentary scene. Huang Ji and Ryuji Otsuka became partners privately and professionally, their films being the cinematic offspring of their relationship. Continue reading

Tsai Ming-liang NYC retrospective

Source: SCMP (10/26/22)
How Taiwan’s art-house film icon Tsai Ming-liang has evolved over 30 years, as New York retrospective takes deep dive into his work
One of Taiwan’s foremost directors, Tsai explains how empathy has become more important in his work and how film students need to find their own voice. He says he doesn’t want to manipulate viewers into ‘manufactured feelings’ like mainstream films do, but use a purely cinematic language that doesn’t distract.
By Daniel Eagan

Malaysian-Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang moved to Taiwan in 1977 to study theatre. Photo: Claude Wang

Malaysian-Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang moved to Taiwan in 1977 to study theatre. Photo: Claude Wang

Thirteen years after Malaysian-Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang last visited the United States, a retrospective of his work kicked off at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) – and Tsai was there to greet the audience.

Titled “Tsai Ming-Liang: In Dialogue with Time, Memory and Self”, the retrospective began on October 20 and includes 14 of Tsai’s feature films and four short films, as well as examples of his art.

It’s an opportunity to “take a big, deep dive into his body of work that lets viewers see how he has evolved over 30 years”, says La Frances Hui, curator of film at MoMA.

Tsai has been recognised as one of Taiwan’s foremost directors since his earliest films, but he playfully dismisses his influence on other filmmakers.

“Do I have that kind of impact?” he says with a laugh, via a translator. “What I tell my film students is just be yourself. Even if you have writer’s block, find your own voice. The process of creating is developing and exploring and finding yourself.” Continue reading

The Cinema of Ann Hui–cfp

CFP: The Cinema of Ann Hui: Aesthetics, Politics, and Philosophy
Editors: Zhaoyu Zhu (University of Nottingham, Ningbo, China); Weiting Fan (Chongqing University Meishi Film Academy)

Ann Hui Oh-Wah has been one of the most important figures in Hong Kong film production since the Hong Kong New Wave. In 2020, she was awarded with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 77th Venice Film Festival. Except for Andrey Yue’s Ann Hui’s Song of the Exile (1990), there is rarely any book-length project dedicated to studying Hui’s cinema in the English-language academia. However, her prolific career spanning all over 40 years provides scholars with valuable resources to probe into the relationship between a filmmaker’s creativity and the vicissitudes of the Hong Kong cinema, especially in terms of the cinematic representation of Hong Kong’s diasporic communities’ experience of displacement under Hong Kong’s specific socio-political context. Indeed, as a female director, her works also inspire us to rethink the position of female filmmakers within the Chinese-language film industries and the representation of female subjectivity in Asian cinema. Besides, we also expect to invite scholars to read Hui’s works from innovative aesthetic perspectives, especially by re-appropriating non-western-centric philosophical concepts. We hope this edited collection can be a handbook for exploring Ann Hui’s oeuvre as a multifaceted entity, which further contributes to understanding Hui’s historical importance in Chinese cinemas and women’s filmmaking on the global screen. Continue reading