Eileen Chang at 100 event

Eileen Chang 張愛玲 at 100: Online premiere of film “Love Everlasting” 不了情 (1947)
Event information: https://ccr.ubc.ca/eileen-chang-at-100/

Please join us for an event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Eileen Chang!

September 30, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing 張愛玲, 1920-1995), one of the most acclaimed writers of the twentieth century. In celebration, the Modern Chinese Cultural Studies YouTube channel is hosting a special premiere of Professor Christopher Rea’s new translation of Chang’s first produced film screenplay Love Everlasting 不了情 (1947). Starring Chen Yanyan and Liu Qiong, the film dramatizes a story of love, social pressure, and a young woman in an impossible situation.

During the 93-minute screening, join Christopher Rea (UBC Professor of Modern Chinese Literature) and Renren Yang (UBC Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese Popular Culture) for a live chat (in the YouTube Premiere comments sidebar) about the film and its relations to literary and cinematic culture, as well as to the life of Eileen Chang. Continue reading

‘Mulan’ fizzles in China

Source: NYT (9/14/20)
Imagined as a Blockbuster in China, ‘Mulan’ Fizzles
Disney’s live-action remake had already drawn a global backlash. Chinese audiences mocked it for other reasons, including historical inaccuracies and stereotyping.
By Amy Qin and Amy Chang Chien

Disney took pains to ensure that “Mulan” would appeal to audiences in China, but the film collected just $23 million its opening weekend in the country. Credit…Greg Baker/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Disney had been pinning its hopes on its $200 million live-action remake of “Mulan” as a way to finally deliver a blockbuster that resonated culturally with moviegoers in China, the world’s No. 2 film market.

But when it arrived, Chinese moviegoers had a litany of complaints.

The filmmakers were trying too hard to pander to China, but did not try hard enough to get their historical facts right. They made Mulan too westernized yet still succumbed to Orientalist stereotypes. They cast popular Chinese actors yet gave them lines in English that felt awkward in a Chinese setting.

“The movie is a waste of Mulan’s innocent name; it really is heartbreaking,” Qiu Tian, 30, a psychology teacher at a Beijing university who recently saw the movie, said in an interview. “The director completely misunderstood Mulan and stubbornly twisted her character into this role as an extreme feminist and hero.” Continue reading

Locating Taiwan Cinema in the Twenty-First Century

New Publication: Locating Taiwan Cinema in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Paul G. Pickowicz and Yingjin Zhang (Cambria Press)
Cambria Sinophone World Series (General Editor: Victor H. Mair)
Hardback  9781621965459  $114.99  328pp.

Order direct from Cambria Press by 9/30/2020 and save 25% on the hardcover (Use coupon code SAVE25).
E-book editions also available. Use the Cambria Book Cloud to assign this book for class use.

Watch this short video about the book https://twitter.com/CambriaPress/status/1301966183269371905

Twenty-first-century Taiwan has been evolving in fascinating and complicated ways, in terms of culture, economy, politics, and society. This has led to renewed tensions in relations between the government of mainland China and various camps in Taiwan. In Taiwan, these tensions often focus on issues of identity. Who are the Taiwanese? How are the Taiwanese different from regional and global communities? How are the Taiwanese connected to these communities? Business leaders, factory workers, farmers, and migrants have their opinions. Cultural producers, including filmmakers and pop musicians, offer unique perspectives. Political parties, functioning in a democratic environment, fiercely debate these issues. Remarkably diverse ethnic groups contribute to this ongoing dialogue. This complex twenty-first-century debate in Taiwan is a politically healthy one that takes place both on and off screen. Continue reading

The Wandering Earth: Gender, Sexuality, and Geopolitics

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “The Wandering Earth: Gender, Sexuality, and Geopolitics,” compiled and edited by Petrus Liu and Lisa Rofel, a discussion by eight scholars on the film The Wandering Earth. A teaser appears below; the entire text can be found here: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/the-wandering-earth/.

Kirk Denton, editor

The Wandering Earth:
Gender, Sexuality, and Geopolitics

Compiled and edited by Petrus Liu and Lisa Rofel

Petrus Liu | Laura Trajber Waisbich | Zeng Lu | Zairong Xiang |
Lisa Rofel | Maria Amelia Viteri-Burbano and Jesse Crane-Seeber | Cai Yiping

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright September 2020)

Introduction: The Heteropatriarchal Geopolitics of The Wandering Earth
Petrus Liu (Boston University)

Since its highly anticipated theatrical release on Chinese New Year’s Day in 2019, The Wandering Earth (流浪地球), China’s first space blockbuster directed by Frant Gwo 郭帆, has become the country’s third highest-grossing film of all time. The Wandering Earth capitalizes on the success of action star Wu Jing 吴京, who plays a heroic Chinese astronaut in this film after directing, co-writing, and starring in Wolf Warrior II (战狼II), the 2017 action film that holds the record for the highest-grossing Chinese film in history. Like its predecessor, The Wandering Earth features a patriotic theme and a plotline centered on a rescue mission. Whereas Wolf Warrior II has Wu Jing traveling to Africa to rescue imperiled workers in a Chinese factory from deadly diseases, civil wars, and white mercenaries, The Wandering Earth raises the stakes: now Wu Jing’s character and his family must save Earth and the entire human race from an interstellar catastrophe. In year 2061, the earth has become a freezing planet with a dying Sun. Huddled in subterranean cities, what is left of humanity has formed a United Earth Government and devised a plan a propel Earth to a more habitable solar system. The story switches back and forth between Wu Jing’s character Liu Peiqiang 刘培强, a Chinese astronaut who left his four-year son Liu Qi 刘启 behind seventeen years previously to complete a mission in outer space to save Earth, and the now grown-up Liu Qi, who goes on his own adventures with his adopted sister Han Duoduo 韩朵朵 on Earth’s rapidly crumbling surface. Though Liu Peiqiang has completed the original mission and is now finally about to be reunited with his family on Earth after the Chinese New Year, new and unexpected interstellar and environmental catastrophes occur. After overcoming many seemingly insurmountable obstacles, including a rogue artificial intelligence system with its own secret agenda, Liu Peiqiang commandeers the space station and sacrifices himself on a suicide mission to allow Earth to escape the gravitational pull of Jupiter. Though the son never gets to see his father again, Earth is saved from destruction and continues on its journey to another galaxy. . . [read the rest of the text]

Museological Warfare

Museological Warfare: Cine-Exhibition of Class Struggle in Mao’s China
Colloquium: Center for Chinese Studies | September 4 | 5-6:30 p.m. |  Online – Zoom webinar
 Belinda Qian He, CCS Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Berkeley
 Weihong Bao, Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures, UC Berkeley
 Center for Chinese Studies (CCS)

Belinda Q. He’s talk examines the little studied exhibition-cinema dynamics in a Mao-era cultural movement that celebrated the mass historiographies based on supposedly crowdsourced archiving, collecting, curating, writing, and storytelling. Situated in the context of the Socialist Education Movement, it provides a case study of the intersection between a local class struggle exhibition and the documentary based on the exhibition, an alternative “museum film” in the Maoist context. The talk explores how the genre zhanlanhui (temporary exhibition, or more specifically, class education exhibition) lived out its cinematic and transmedia life, transforming familiar phenomena that had not been named in a single unified way, but which consequently, took on changing and extreme forms in a complex of punitive practices (pidou, mass gatherings in which class enemies were accused and/or tormented in public).

The work argues that the operation of what may be called museological warfare at the center of the phenomena was crucial to the shaping of class struggle in Mao’s China through exhibition making; recognizing the role of museological warfare helps us to rethink the functioning of pidou as an unfolding system of transmedia practices. In contrast with conventional views, which see socialist media as the leading forces in a top-down state propaganda system, or as idealistic imaginaries of grassroots exhibition practices in human rights activism and social protests, this study stresses the complexity of the mutual working of exhibition and cinema within a (Maoist) mass-produced media network. Furthermore, the Maoist case of cinema and/as exhibition draws our attention to a type of cinematic encounter that is revolutionary not in the sense that it was produced and used for socialist revolutionary purposes but in terms of its articulation of interactive, participatory, and possibly immersive experiences that resonate in so many ways with contemporary examples largely assumed to be defined by digitality.

 Please register before 4pm, Friday September 4.Register online
 Xiaojie Ma,  ccs@berkeley.edu,  510-643-6321

Ai Weiwei’s portrait of Wuhan’s covid lockdown

Source: NYT (8/21/20)
From Ai Weiwei, a Portrait of Wuhan’s Draconian Covid Lockdown
Ai said the documentary film “Coronation,” which he directed remotely from Europe, “is trying to reflect what ordinary Chinese people went through.”
By Ian Johnson

In Ai Weiwei’s “Coronation,” an I.C.U. team consults on a case in a hospital in Wuhan, China. Credit…Ai Weiwei Studios

LONDON — In January, the Chinese city of Wuhan became the first in the world to undergo a lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic. In many ways this crucial period remains a mystery, with few images escaping the censors’ grasp.

A new film by the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei helps fill in some of that missing history. Although now living in Europe, Ai remotely directed dozens of volunteers across China to create “Coronation,” a portrait of Wuhan’s draconian lockdown — and of a country able to mobilize huge resources, if at great human cost.

“The audience has to understand that this is about China,” Ai said in a telephone interview from Portugal. “Yes, it’s about the corona lockdown, but it is trying to reflect what ordinary Chinese people went through.” Continue reading

HK Cinema through a Global Lens

Greetings from Hong Kong!

In just a few weeks, a new run of Hong Kong Cinema through a Global Lens is scheduled to go live. In these challenging times we are keen to offer you material and a little morale boost. We invite you to join our educational journey exploring Hong Kong culture through 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 course starts on September 8, 2020.

We have talked with teachers from across the globe who have utilized our MOOC in various ways. Some are selecting one MOOC Unit to reinforce particular pedagogical objectives, some are linking our exploration of Hong Kong Cinema to general studies, global studies, cultural history or other film and digital media courses. More frequently, we find that teachers invite us into their online classrooms as “virtual guest lecturers.” (You don’t even have to feed or entertain us when we visit!) 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, the American Studies Program, and the Gender Studies Program, have worked with the creative assistance of HKU TELI (Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative) to provide various ways to enrich your efforts, internationalize your curriculum, and add a little variety to your teaching plans. Continue reading

Made in Hollywood, censored by Beijing

Too long to post in its entirety, here’s the introduction to an article from PEN about the extension of PRC censorship into Hollywood. –Kirk

Source: Pen.org (nd)
Made in Hollywood, Censored by Beijing
This report was written by James Tager, PEN America’s Deputy Director of Free Expression Research and Policy, with substantial research and drafting contributions from PEN America consultant Jonathan Landreth.

The U.S. Film Industry and Chinese Government Influence


This report examines the ways in which Beijing’s censors have affected and influenced Hollywood and the global filmmaking industry. Stories shape the way people think, and the stories told by Hollywood reach billions. As an anti-censorship organization dedicated to the celebration of open cultural and artistic expression, PEN America has sought to understand how one of the world’s most censorious regimes is extending its influence over the global locus for filmmaking here in the United States, shaping what is perhaps the world’s most influential artistic and cultural medium.

PEN America defends and celebrates freedom of expression in the United States and globally. Our work has included a decades-long advocacy engagement on China, where dozens of members of our sister PEN organization—the Independent Chinese PEN Center—have been imprisoned or persecuted by Beijing.1 The most influential of those colleagues was Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who was serving an 11-year prison sentence for his writings when he died of liver cancer.2 Our work has involved advocacy campaigns, detailed research reports, literary exchanges, and other efforts aimed at pushing back against Beijing’s censorship policies and its criminalization of dissent. Continue reading

Shanghai International Film Fest back on

Source: China Daily (7/17/20)
Shanghai Intl Film Festival back on track

Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn The 23rd Shanghai International Film Festival will be the first major film event to take place in China since the outbreak of the pandemic. The event will take place from Jul 25 to Aug 2.

In May, festival organizers announced that the event, originally scheduled to take place from June 13 to 22, would be delayed because of COVID-19.

It was announced on Jul 16 that Taopiaopiao, Alibaba’s movie ticketing application, will be the official ticketing platform for the film festival.

Meanwhile, Youku.com will be the official live streaming platform and online showcase partner of the festival.

“We are grateful for the support of film institutions from home and abroad, film lovers and others during the pandemic,” read the notice released on May 20. “We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience caused by the delay.”

The film festival will be followed by the Aug 3-7 Shanghai TV festival.

[See also Shanghai Film Festival Sells out in Mere Hours]

Hu Jie, excavating Chinese history

Source: NYT (6/28/20)
Excavating Chinese History, One Harrowing Film at a Time
The work of Hu Jie, who has made more than 30 movies, is little known even in China. The release of “Spark” and “The Observer” should make him better known abroad.
By Ian Johnson

The filmmaker Hu Jie in “The Observer,” a documentary about Hu, directed by Rita Andreetti. Credit…Icarus Films

For more than 20 years, the filmmaker Hu Jie has been trawling the deep waters of Chinese history to create a series of harrowing documentaries about the early years of Communist Party rule.

Though Hu is largely unknown outside Chinese intellectual and foreign academic circles, two films, to be released on June 30, should increase the visibility of his work and help make it accessible to outsiders. “Spark” — a film that has undergone many iterations, alternations and expansions — reconstructs the fate of a group of young people who started an underground journal 60 years ago. And “The Observer,” a documentary about Hu by the Italian director Rita Andreetti, is at once a sympathetic portrait of the filmmaker and an introduction to his films.

Both are being distributed by Icarus Films as part of dGenerate Films’ collection of independent Chinese movies, curated by the American film producer Karin Chien. Their release — along with three other important Hu works that Icarus has released — makes it possible for audiences to see the sweep of his body of work. Continue reading

Eclipse film review

Source: Taipei Times (6/25/20)
Movie Review: Eclipse
A 45-second classic television commercial is turned into a gripping and entertaining 83-minute thriller that addresses current social issues such as abuse in the military and transitional justice
By Han Cheung / Staff reporter

Kai Hsieh, left, and Kelvin Chi star in Eclipse. Photo courtesy of atmovies.com

It’s hard to know what to expect from a film that takes a popular 1990s “Iron Ox” (鐵牛運功散) herbal remedy television commercial and expands it to 83 minutes. There’s infinite room for imagination, as the commercial basically consists of a young military conscript calling his mother and telling her how effective the remedy is.

“Mom, it’s A-jung!” (媽! 我阿榮啦) he exclaims into the old-school payphone, the catchphrase serving as the Chinese title of Eclipse. He enthusiastically describes the medicine’s benefits, after which his father takes the phone and asks him to come home soon. The ad is still shown on television every now and then, giving rise to the running joke that A-jung is still stuck in military service over 20 years later and still hasn’t returned home. Continue reading

On the 9th Reel China Biennial

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “Homecoming, Postsocialist Memory, and Subjects: On the 9th Reel China Biennial,” by Qi Wang. The essay, an overview of films screened at the 9th Reel China Biennial, held at NYU in November of 2019, can be read in its entirety at: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/qi-wang2/. Find a teaser below.

Kirk Denton, editor

Homecoming, Postsocialist Memory, and Subjects:
On the 9th Reel China Biennial

By Qi Wang

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June 2020)

The Reel China Biennial is an independent Chinese film and documentary screening series that was inaugurated in 2001. In November 2019, New York University hosted its 9th edition, co-curated by NYU professors Zhang Zhen (张真) and Angela Zito (司徒安) along with Wang Xiaolu (王小鲁), a leading critic of independent film in China (fig. 1).[1] As in the past, this most recent program is fresh and comprehensive. It showcases twelve films created after 2015. Among those, nine are from 2018, and six are of feature length, going over ninety minutes each.

24th Street (24号大街, dir. Pan Zhiqi 潘志琪, 2018), a nominee for the Best Documentary at the 55th Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival, observes the vagabond life of Su and Qin, a couple nearing retirement age who have lived together out of wedlock for over two decades (fig. 2). The two make a living by running makeshift restaurants to feed fellow migrant workers on construction sites, the latter a common sight in and near cities such as Hangzhou, where the first part of the film is set, due to the massive urbanization unfolding in China. Without a license and at the mercy of shifting conditions that range from weather and location to the police, the hardworking Su and Qin know distress and failure only too well. With their investment turning fruitless once again, they decide to return to their native Guizhou province and perhaps settle down there. . .  [read the whole essay]

Chinese Film Classics update

Here’s an update on Christopher Rea’s project Chinese Film Classics.–Kirk

A free YouTube playlist of early Chinese films with English subtitles
Translated by Christopher Rea (chris.rea@ubc.ca)
List of films current as of June 12, 2020

Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhA05Qf-09xBaz_t_ynYbyZ-Porcj7bui
Book: https://cup.columbia.edu/book/chinese-film-classics-19221949/9780231188135

Laborer’s Love (1922): The earliest surviving complete Chinese film. In this short slapstick comedy, a carpenter-turned-fruit seller is in love with a doctor’s daughter and uses the tricks of his former trade to win her father’s approval. Features special effects and original Chinese-English intertitles. Draws a laugh from kids and grown-ups alike.


Playthings (1933): Ruan Lingyu and Li Lili star as mother and daughter, artisan toymakers whose livelihood is being ruined by mass-produced foreign imports. After her son is kidnapped, Sister Ye leads the community in supporting soldiers defending Shanghai against the Japanese invasion of 1932. Director Sun Yu harnesses the charisma of two screen goddesses in this parable about China’s urgent need for military and economic self-strengthening. Ruan’s final scene is a tour de force.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukTQfh2hNNs&list=PLhA05Qf-09xBaz_t_ynYbyZ-Porcj7bui&index=3&t=0s Continue reading

Animation in the Sinosphere

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of “Animation in the Sinosphere: A Review Essay,” by Evelyn Shih. The essay reviews two recent publications on animation in China and Taiwan. The review appears below, and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/evelyn-shih/. My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Animation in the Sinosphere: A Review Essay

Puppets, Gods, and Brands: Theorizing the Age of Animation from Taiwan, by Teri Silvio
Animated Encounters: Transnational Movements of Chinese Animation, 1940s-1970s, by Daisy Yan Du

Reviewed by Evelyn Shih
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May, 2020)

Teri Silvio, Puppets, Gods, and Brands: Theorizing the Age of Animation from Taiwan Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2019. 290 pages. ISBN: 9780824881160 (Paper); 9780824876623 (Hardcover).

Daisy Yan Du, Animated Encounters: Transnational Movements of Chinese Animation Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2019. 276 pages. ISBN: 9780824877644 (Paper); 9780824872106 (Hardcover).

Has the age of animation begun? And if it has, to whom does it belong? Two new books on Chinese and Taiwanese animation bring these questions into focus using materials that have thus far received scant attention in English-language scholarship. In global animation studies, by far the dominant loci for animation have been America and Japan—the former beginning with the worldwide stardom of Mickey Mouse, and the latter beginning with the post-WWII boom of anime, which subsequently drew interest to earlier animation and related media. The modes of animation that emerged from these locations have come to define the paradigms through which most scholars approach animation, and included among these framing paradigms is the specter of national cinema. While both Teri Silvio’s Puppets, Gods, and Brands: Theorizing the Age of Animation from Taiwan and Daisy Yan Du’s Animated Encounters: Transnational Movements of Chinese Animation engage with that framework, they also work to push the model forward with new perspectives.

Silvio challenges “Japanamerica” through the lens of post-colonialism, taking as her case study a past colony of Japan and a neo-colonial client state of the US: Taiwan.[1] More importantly, however, she broadens the field of animation studies by finding an interdisciplinary interface with anthropology and religious studies—that is, she engages seriously with media studies, especially areas such as fan and reception studies, film analysis, and production studies, but her strength is in cultural theory. The “age of animation” that she proposes in her title is not just an acknowledgement of increasingly sophisticated digital technologies and virtual realities reaching a new level of omnipresence in contemporary life; it also redefines animation as a mode of post-humanism. As she puts it, “animation in the narrow sense (a kind of cinema or video) is popular because animation in the broad sense (giving objects lives of their own) is good to think with—specifically, to think through what is happening right now in the intersections of technology and capitalism, of the global and the local, of the human and the nonhuman” (3). In one deft move, Silvio provincializes Japanese and American animation, which is after all just “a kind of cinema or video,” and finds a larger question that puts a relatively marginal mode of Taiwanese puppet animation at the center. Puppets, after all, are objects that exist precisely to have a “life of their own.” Continue reading

An Interview with Wang Jiuliang

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Jin Liu’s “A Cinematic Presentation of Trash: An Interview with Wang Jiuliang.” The interview appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/jin-liu/. My thanks to Jin Liu for sharing this piece with the MCLC community.

Kirk Denton, editor

A Cinematic Presentation of Trash:
An Interview with Wang Jiuliang

By Jin Liu

Interview conducted in Chinese, translated by Jin Liu

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright May 2020)

Wang Jiuliang’s 王久良 documentary Plastic China 塑料王国 (2016; 82 min.) follows the members of two families who spend their lives sorting and recycling plastic waste imported from the United States, Europe, and Asia. Yijie, an eleven-year-old girl, works alongside her migrant parents from Sichuan in a recycling plant in Shandong while yearning to return home and attend school. Kun, the facility’s boss, aspires to buy a new car and to secure a better life for his family. Through the story of these two families, this poignant film explores not only waste recycling, but also social and gender inequality, urbanization, consumerism, and globalization. It won the Special Jury Award at the 2016 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), the prize for Best Film on Sustainable Development at the 2017 Millennium International Documentary Film Festival in Belgium, and was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2017 Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan. Continue reading