Jia Zhangke to make Momo-produced drama

Source: Hollywood Reporter (10/15/19)
Jia Zhangke, China’s Biggest Dating App Team for Beijing-Set Drama
By Mathew Scott

Getty: Jia Zhangke

The Chinese auteur revealed details of the project, a first for “China’s Tinder” Momo, at the Pingyao International Film Festival.

Chinese social media giant Momo, often referred to as “China’s Tinder,” has reached a deal with acclaimed director Jia Zhangke for its first foray into the world of feature films.

The deal was announced at the Jia-led Pingyao International Film Festival (PYIFF), which is currently underway in the historic central Chinese city. The Beijing-based company is one of the financial backers behind PYIFF and will expand its footprint in film with a move into production. Continue reading

3rd Pingyao Film Fest open

Source: China Daily (10/14/19)
3rd Pingyao International Film Festival opens
By Xinhua

A poster for the third Pingyao International Film Festival. [Photo/mtime.com]

The third Pingyao International Film Festival unveiled its curtain Thursday night at the 2,700-year-old city of Pingyao, Shanxi province, with 54 films from around the world to be shown.

Over half of the films, solicited from 27 countries and regions, are world premieres.

The movies to be aired during the festival include Cannes Award-winning “Atlantique”, Tibetan director Pema Tseden’s “Balloon”, and renowned Hong Kong filmmaker Jacob Cheung’s new production “The Opera House”. Continue reading

Digitally erasing scandal-plagued actors

Source: Sixth Tone (10/9/19)
A Chinese Drama Is Digitally Erasing Its Scandal-Plagued Actors
The producers of ‘Win the World’ say they’re replacing Fan Bingbing and Gao Yunxiang with stars who have yet to fall from grace.
By Kenrick Davis

A promotional image for the costume drama “Win the World.” From Douban.

Two scandal-struck megastars in the long-delayed costume drama “Win the World” are being digitally scrubbed from the show, according to its producers.

In a statement Tuesday, Talent Television and Film Co. Ltd. said it had enlisted Tmall Technology, a company under e-commerce giant Alibaba, to replace Gao Yunxiang and Fan Bingbing with as-yet-unnamed “top-tier actors” by means of “scene refilming, technological tools, audio re-recording, etc.” The studio also assured potential viewers that the estimated 60 million yuan ($8.4 million) in changes, slated to be completed by the end of this year, would not adversely affect the quality or integrity of the show. Continue reading

South Park creators offer fake apology

Source: NYT (10/8/19)
‘South Park’ Creators Offer Fake Apology After Show Is Erased in China
“Like the N.B.A., we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts,” the show’s creators said in a tongue-in-cheek response. “We too love money more than freedom and democracy.”
By Daniel Victor

Last week’s episode of “South Park,” titled “Band in China,” mocked Chinese censors and American businesses that bend over backwards to appease them. Credit: Comedy Central

HONG KONG — “South Park,” the long-running Comedy Central cartoon whose mockery has spared few touchy topics, was erased from major platforms in China after an episode last week taunted Chinese censors and the far-reaching effect they often have on American entertainment.

The government’s censors, who routinely quash news and commentary deemed undesirable by the ruling Communist Party, wiped out video clips and discussions of the show, which premiered in 1997 and has lasted 23 seasons. Once known mostly for the raunchy humor coming from the mouths of its elementary-school-age main characters, the show has in recent seasons focused on political and cultural satire, without abandoning its boundary-pushing ways. Continue reading

Golden Horse devoid of China and HK nominees

Source: Variety (10/1/19)
Golden Horse Awards Almost Completely Devoid of China and Hong Kong Nominees

Detention scores 12 nominations at Golden Horse Awards. CREDIT: COURTESY OF 1 PRODUCTION FILM CO.

Films from mainland China are completely absent from the list of nominees announced Tuesday for the annual Golden Horse Awards. And with only a handful of titles from Hong Kong on the list, the competition has devolved into a mostly Taiwanese affair.The awards, based in Taiwan and chaired by Oscar-winner Ang Lee, have traditionally been considered the most prestigious prizes for films in the Chinese language. But a political spat at last year’s ceremony, where a Taiwanese award-winner infuriated mainland Chinese attendees and the Beijing regime by giving a speech in favor of Taiwanese independence, sparked a pullout by mainland films from this year’s contest. China considers self-governing, democratic Taiwan as part of its rightful territory, to be retaken by force if necessary. Continue reading

Same old ‘China Story’ keeps Chinese sci-fi earthbound

Source: China File (9/30/19)
The Same Old ‘China Story’ Keeps Chinese Sci-Fi Earthbound
By Ying Zhu

ImagineChina: Pedestrians walk past a poster for the movie ‘The Wandering Earth’ outside a cinema in Shanghai, February 20, 2019.

Earlier this year, the Chinese sci-fi film The Wandering Earth became the Lunar New Year’s biggest release. The film was hailed in China as innovative and groundbreaking, a milestone in science fiction filmmaking and one of the best and most authentic stories to display China for the world. In August 2013, at his first national meeting on propaganda and ideology, Xi Jinping instructed China’s propaganda workers to “tell China’s story well, and properly disseminate China’s voice.” A year later at a foreign affairs work meeting, Xi emphasized that China “must raise our country’s soft power, telling China’s story well.” The Wandering Earth, like other big-budget Chinese blockbusters of recent years that extol the virtue, prowess, and uniqueness of Chinese culture, appears to be just the kind of “China story” Xi had in mind. Continue reading

The Future of Independent Documentary in China

Source: dGenerate Films (Sept. 2019)
Navigating “The Future of Independent Documentary in China” in 2019
by Maya E. Rudolph

“The Future of Independent Documentary in China” was the focus of a recent panel at the University of Southern California, where as part of the Visible Evidence documentary conference, Luke Robinson of the University of Sussex led a discussion amongst Chinese cinema scholars and filmmakers including independent filmmaker Zhu Rikun, Jenny Chio of USC, Michael Berry of UCLA, and Sabrina Qiong Yu of the University of Newcastle.

These scholars and filmmakers, all based outside of China, positioned the panel as an opportunity to look back at the devastation of documentary communities in recent years, examine the current landscape for independent documentary, and engage in a community-oriented dialogue making sense of the questions that have always stalked China’s documentary makers – do the challenges facing Chinese documentary communities represent a death knell or the opportunity for a transformation? Where do we go from here? Continue reading

Animator Dai Tielang dies

Source: ACAS (Association for Chinese Animation Studies) (9/4/19)
Dai Tielang (1930-2019) Passed Away on September 4, 2019

Dai Tielang, widely known as the “father” of Police Chief Black Cat (Heimao jingzhang, 1984-1987), passed away at 8:40pm on September 4, 2019. Dai was born in Singapore in 1930. He graduated from the Animation Department of the Beijing Film Academy in 1953 and joined the Shanghai Animation Film Studio in the same year. He was an animation designer for a long time before starting to work as a director in 1979. His animated directorial debut was The Hens’ Relocation to a New Home (Muji banjia, cel animation, 1979). His films, often featuring scientific subject matter and catering to the interest of children, were very popular among young audiences. He also worked as art designer and screenwriter for his own films. From 1984-1987, he directed a well-known TV animation series Police Chief Black Cat, which won the first “Calf Award” (Tongniu jiang) in China in 1985. His film My Friend the Little Dolphin (Wode pengyou xiao haitun, cel animation, 1980) won the President’s Silver Award at the Italy International Children and Youth Film Festival.

HK Cinema through a Global Lens MOOC


Registration is now open for the seventh offering of 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 online course starts on September 17, 2019. Enjoy the conversation on Hong Kong cinema with 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 and American Studies Program with the creative assistance of HKU TELI (Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative).

The edX platform hosts Hong Kong Cinema through a Global Lens, which is free of charge on the Internet. Lively and student-centered, this MOOC is appropriate for secondary, tertiary, and lifelong learners from all corners of the globe, who have a good command of the English language. Teachers are welcome and encouraged to adapt various modules and materials for their own classroom or e-learning needs. The course explores globalization through Hong Kong cinema featuring crisp analyses of the actors and filmmakers whose lives and films connect the local Hong Kong scene to global histories, events, and trends. Throughout the six-week course, students will encounter stars including Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Maggie Cheung as well as award-winning directors such as John Woo, Mabel Cheung, Andrew Lau, and Wong Kar Wai. Continue reading

China Brand Insider

Dear Media Friend,

The publisher of China Film Insider today announced the launch of China Brand Insider, a new weekly business publication specifically focused on the business of brand integration in Chinese entertainment.

China Brand Insider will act as a key source of news and insights for the business of brand integration in the world’s most dynamic consumer culture. The first issue can be viewed here.

The weekly newsletter, written in English, features original content, case studies, and takeaways from the latest Chinese-language news on the relationship between brands and entertainment. CBI as it is known, will also develop in-depth reports and case studies as well as live events to deeply cover the rapid rise of this industry.

For more information, please see the attached press release. Let us know if you have further questions.

Best Regards,
Chen Zeng
China Film Insider

China bans Golden Horse participation

Source: Taipei Times (8/8/19)
China bans Golden Horse participation
JUMP CUT: The film festival’s organizing committee said that the jury process and all events would continue as planned, despite the absence of Chinese participants
By Reuters, BEIJING and TAIPEI

Chinese director Zhang Yimou holds his award for Best Director at the 55th Golden Horse Awards in Taipei on Nov. 17 last year. Photo: AP

The China Film Administration yesterday said that it was blocking the Chinese movie industry from participating in the Golden Horse Awards, without a giving a reason.

China Film News, a magazine published by the agency, made the announcement on its official WeChat account.

“China Film Administration says that it will suspend mainland movies and their personnel from participating in 2019’s 55th Golden Horse Awards,” it said.

The move comes after the annual event, the Chinese-speaking world’s version of the Oscars, became a lightning rod for questions about Taiwanese independence last year, sparking a debate between Taiwanese and Chinese stars, as well as netizens. Continue reading

A City Called Macau

Source: SCMP (7/3/19)
A City Called Macau film review: Bai Baihe in tale of misplaced affection and gambling addiction
Film suffers from the fact that, while its three lead actors give credible performances, none of their characters is sympathetic enough to carry its story. The tale of a casino broker who funds wealthy gamblers but drops her guard when she falls for an artist turned gaming addict requires a suspension of disbelief
By Edmund Lee

Bai Baihe in a still from A City Called Macau (category IIA; Mandarin, Cantonese), directed by Li Shaohong. Wu Gangand Huang Jue co-star.

Bai Baihe in a still from A City Called Macau (category IIA; Mandarin, Cantonese), directed by Li Shaohong. Wu Gangand Huang Jue co-star.

A City Called Macau [媽閣是座城] is a glossy, episodic tale of misplaced affection and gambling addiction set in the Chinese casino city between the early 2000s and 2014, when China’s anti-corruption campaign put a halt to the ferocious growth in its gaming revenue.

The first film since 2007’s The Door by Li Shaohong, one of China’s Fifth Generation directors, who is best known for Bloody Morning, it is an adaptation of Yan Geling’s 2012 novel of the same name. Yan wrote the script with the help of two other writers, Lu Wei and Chan Man-keung. Continue reading

Asian Women Filmmakers on Global Screens–cfp

ASIAN WOMEN FILMMAKERS ON GLOBAL SCREENS: Networks, Circuits, and Community Connections
International Conference
March 27 and 28, 2020
Center for the Study of Globalization and Cultures,
Faculty of Arts, University of Hong Kong

Women filmmakers are severely underrepresented in general film distribution (theatrical and auxiliary), film festivals and awards: a phenomenon that adversely affects the visibility of female filmmakers from Asia. However, there has been little concrete investigation into the mechanisms that underpin the status quo. Through engaging international specialists on women in film, this conference seeks to dissect the system, pinpoint the weak spots and identify a possible remedial course of action toward improving the situation of women filmmakers.  The goal of our conversation will not only be to increase knowledge on these matters but to make practical recommendations to the film industry, film festivals, and other institutions. Continue reading

Remembering Peng Xiaolian

Remembering Writer-director Peng Xiaolian
Louisa Wei

November 2003, Xiaolian (right) and Louisa (middle) were filming with Komatsu Ran (left) in Keio University, Tokyo Japan.

Film director and writer Peng Xiaolian 彭小莲 passed away on June 19, 2019. Below I share some memories about her.

In May 2003, Shanghai film director Peng Xiaolian called me and asked if I was interested in working on a documentary about the “Hu Feng Counterrevolutionary Clique” case (the PRC’s first large-scale literary persecution). By that point, I had only met her once at the Hong Kong International Film Festival of 2002, but we had been writing to each other for about two years. What’s more important is that I had already read her book about her parents: Their Times (他们的岁月). I agreed to work with her on the documentary almost right away and told her I would start to look for funding. I called her back after just a few hours, because I found that we could apply to the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam’s script development grant, but we only had one week before the deadline. Xiaolian sent me a story in Chinese the next day, and a day later I came up with a proposal and a working title for the film: Storm under the Sun (红日风暴). I couriered the proposal four days later. At the end of June, we were notified that we were one of the 17 recipients of funding out of 180 applicants, though it was only 4000 euros. In July, we started filming in Shanghai. We got a fast start indeed. The path of my life as an assistant professor suddenly changed. Continue reading

White Snake: Origins review

Source: ACAS (6/24/19)
Queering an Icon, Becoming a Demon: A Review of White Snake: Origins
By Liang Luo

The 2019 animated film White Snake: Origins (Baishe yuanqi), co-produced by Beijing-based Light Chaser Animation and Warner Bros., premiered on January 11 throughout China. It opens with an innovative, hybrid style of ink-painting 3D animation.[1] In the one-minute opening sequence, two snakes who have transformed into beautiful women, White Snake and Green Snake, and their surrounding environment are outlined in charming ink brush strokes. This distinctive aesthetic style is reminiscent of traditional landscape paintings as seen in China, Japan, Korea, and India, as well as in Mizoguchi Kenji’s reinvention of this style in the 1953 live action film Tale of Moonlight and Rain (Ugetsu), one of the first postwar Japanese films with a “White Snake” theme.[2] Continue reading