HK Cinema through a Global Lens MOOC

Thinking about Hong Kong? So are we.

Registration is now open for the next 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. We are proud to remind you that our MOOC was recently named one of “the 10 smartest online courses you can sign up for” by Mental Floss. We invite you to join our educational journey exploring Hong Kong cinema through this award-winning online course. The action begins on February 4, 2020.

Enjoy and engage in 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 Department of History, the American Studies Program, and the Gender Studies Program at HKU with the creative assistance of HKU TELI (Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative). Share insights with learners with a range of experiences and interests and find out what you have to learn and offer, regardless of how much or how little you know about Hong Kong and its cinematic scene. Continue reading

Reassessing Chinese Independent Cinema–cfp reminder

Reassessing Chinese Independent Cinema: Past, Present… and Future?
5-6 June 2020
Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne
Final Reminder: Call for Paper Proposals

If Wu Wenguang’s Bumming in Beijing (流浪北京, 1990) is considered to mark the birth of independent cinema in the People’s Republic of China (hereafter China) that cinema will be celebrating its 30th birthday in 2020. But if independence is defined as meaning production without government permission, China’s first film law in 2017 was understood by many as making that practice illegal. The intervening decades saw the emergence of a broader film culture supporting this filmmaking, from film festivals to film criticism, but also this culture’s metamorphosis under pressure from both state and market. Can we still speak of independent cinema in the PRC, and if so, what does it mean to do so? Continue reading

Godfrey Gao (1984-2019)

Source: Fête Chinoise (11/27/19)
REMEMBERING TAIWANESE-CANADIAN ACTOR: GODFREY GAO (1984-2019)
Written by Jennifer Lau

Godfrey Gao at Comic Con 2013. Source: Flickr.

Godfrey Gao at Comic Con 2013. Source: Flickr.

It is with saddened hearts that we remember the young Taiwanese-Canadian actor and model, Godfrey Gao (高以翔).

Gao died while filming in a Zhejiang Television production “Chase Me” (追我吧) — a new reality television show first introduced to audiences in September 2019. The show had recruited various artists including Hong Kong-born actor William Chan (陳偉霆) and Taiwanese singer Jam Hsiao (蕭敬騰) with the objective of having the artists compete against one other in physical activities. Gao collapsed on set on Wednesday. He was sent to hospital and succumbed to a heart attack. The news has flooded Chinese media platform, Weibo, with many fans sharing their grief. Continue reading

Lessons for Hollywood in creative marketing

Source: SCMP (11/26/19)
How China was sold on Oscar winner Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody and a Lebanese tragedy – lessons for Hollywood in creative marketing
How did a film about America’s Jim Crow South gross US$71 million in China? Make it about the food. And Bohemian Rhapsody? Make screenings a mass karaoke. Alibaba Pictures president Zhang Wei talks Hollywood executives through its successes, and tells them where they have been going wrong.
By Charley Lanyon

What do Chinese cinema-goers want to see? All kinds of films, says Alibaba Pictures’ Zhang Wei. The company used unconventional marketing to drive ticket sales for foreign films in the world’s biggest movie market this year. Photo: Alamy

What do Chinese cinema-goers want to see? All kinds of films, says Alibaba Pictures’ Zhang Wei. The company used unconventional marketing to drive ticket sales for foreign films in the world’s biggest movie market this year. Photo: Alamy

For every The Meg, a CGI extravaganza that wowed cinema-goers in China but not as many in the United States, there is a Crazy Rich Asians, which did the complete opposite. Cracking the Chinese film market is still the holy grail for many in Hollywood, and it was, unsurprisingly, a topic of interest at this year’s US-Asia Entertainment Summit, held recently in Los Angeles.

Among the speakers was Alibaba Pictures president Zhang Wei, who shed some light on the subject. She was responsible for the e-commerce giant’s first major Hollywood investment, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and what she said took many by surprise. (Alibaba Pictures is part of the Alibaba Group, which owns the South China Morning Post.)

Zhang said Alibaba Pictures’ biggest crossover success this year had been not an action blockbuster with over-the-top special effects but Green Book, a film whose plot depends on an understanding of US history and race relations, which features no big international names, and whose running time is largely taken up by two men talking in a car. Continue reading

Art in Smog

Source: China Channel, LARB (11/18/19)
Four Young Chinese Artists, 25 Years On
By Richard Kraus

Richard Kraus looks at two documentaries on Chinese art by Lydia Chen

Xia Xiaowan, The Wanderer (1997, cropped detail).

In her spellbinding 1993 documentary Inner Visions, Lydia Chen interviewed three struggling, idealistic young Chinese artists. Twenty-five years later, the same profilees are back in Chen’s latest film, Art in Smog, to discuss their careers again – this time as mature artists who worked hard to find their places in China’s now prosperous arts scene. Chen’s long-term relationship with them is unique, and makes for two very special documentaries which anyone who cares about the evolution of Chinese art over the past quarter century should watch. Continue reading

Chinese translation in Spain

Dear colleagues,

TXICC research group (Translation from Chinese into Spanish/Catalan) is glad to announce the publication of two open-access databases which are the result of years of research by some of its researchers.

On the one hand, “El cine chino traducido en España” (Chinese cinema translated in Spain) contains all the films originally produced in Chinese-speaking areas that have arrived in Spain through different channels, such as cinemas, festivals or online platforms. This database seeks to offer a real image of the type of Chinese cinema that arrives in Spain, as well as to provide data to analyse cinema from the perspective of audiovisual translation.

On the other hand, “La literatura china traducida en España” (Chinese literature translated in Spain) is a twin database compiling all the Chinese literature published in Spain and translated into any of its official languages. Its main aim is to provide empirical data to analyse different aspects of Chinese literature through a literary translation lens, e.g. translators’ (in)visibility or the impact of certain literary works through their different editions and translations. Continue reading

Hoklo spy film fest

Source: Taipei Times (11/13/19)
Taiwan’s femme fatales brought back to life
Only about 200 out of over 1,000 Hoklo-language films made between 1955 and 1981 remain, with female spy flicks one of the intriguing genres
by Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Movie poster for The Best Secret Agent, a 1964 Hoklo-language femme fatale movie. Photo courtesy of Taiwan Film Institute

The two existing film copies of The Best Secret Agent (天字第一號) were both in terrible condition. One was overexposed with significant damage in the highlight areas, while the other showed severe deterioration with scratches, stains, mold and flaky coating.

However, it was fortunate that the 1964 Hoklo-language (also known as Taiwanese) femme fatale flick was preserved at all. After the decline of the Hoklo film industry in the late 1970s, many directors sold their reels to scrap dealers, while the film strips ended up as linings for shirt collars, straw hats and wooden sandals. Countless more were lost to floods, fires and the ravages of time. When people started paying attention to these movies again in the 1990s, many had already been permanently lost.

Lee Cheng-liang (李政亮), assistant professor at National Chengchi University’s College of Communication, estimates that out of the more than 1,000 Hoklo films produced between 1956 and 1981, only about 200 remain.

The Taiwan Film Institute (國家電影中心) has taken on the role of preserving, restoring and digitizing these films since 2013. What remains is still quite diverse in genre and style — many taken straight from Hollywood, resulting in curious and campy Taiwanese Westerns and spy movies often featuring female leads. Continue reading

Reassessing Chinese Independent Cinema–cfp

Reassessing Chinese Independent Cinema: Past, Present… and Future?
Conference, 5-6 June 2020
Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne
Call for Paper Proposals

If Wu Wenguang’s Bumming in Beijing (流浪北京, 1990) is considered to mark the birth of independent cinema in the People’s Republic of China (hereafter China) that cinema will be celebrating its 30th birthday in 2020. But if independence is defined as meaning production without government permission, China’s first film law in 2017 was understood by many as making that practice illegal. The intervening decades saw the emergence of a broader film culture supporting this filmmaking, from film festivals to film criticism, but also this culture’s metamorphosis under pressure from both state and market. Can we still speak of independent cinema in the PRC, and if so, what does it mean to do so?

This seems to be a good moment to take stock of the past, present and future of Chinese independent film. We seek papers that address the current and future state of independent filmmaking in China, but also our understanding of this practice and its history. After thirty years, there is a significant body of literature on the subject, in a range of languages. What have we learned? What is missing? And what is still to be done? Continue reading

Jia Zhangke’s Filmic World

Dear Colleagues,

I’m happy to announce the publication of my new book China in the Age of Global Capitalism: Jia Zhangke’s Filmic World, published by Routledge. This book maps ten of Jia Zhangke’s films onto three major themes: Jia’s filmmaking and China in the market society; truth claims and political unconscious; “post-socialist modernity” in the age of globalization.  By analyzing Jia’s narrative strategies, the author strives to discuss the impact of the larger political economic changes on ordinary people in Jia’s films and the director’s cultural political notion. This book will be of interest to students and scholars of Chinese film studies, as well as other disciplines, such as political science, sociology, anthropology, etc.

For more details, click the following link,

https://www.routledge.com/China-in-the-Age-of-Global-Capitalism-Jia-Zhangkes-Filmic-World-1st/Wang/p/book/9780367367794#series Continue reading

Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Michael Ka-chi Cheuk’s review of Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics (Cambria, 2018), edited by Mabel Lee and Liu Jianmei. The review appears below and at its online home: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/cheuk/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics

Edited by Mabel Lee and Liu Jianmei


Reviewed by Michael Ka-chi Cheuk

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright November, 2019)


Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics Edited by Mabel Lee and Liu Jianmei. Amherst: Cambria Press, 2018. x + 349 pp. ISBN: 9781604979466.

Since Gao Xingjian became the first Chinese-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (2000), the field of Gao Xingjian studies has grown into a formidable industry. Yet, Liu Zaifu, arguably the most prolific and respected scholar in the field, remarks that critics have only scratched the surface of Gao’s artistic career: “Though there are certainly numerous critiques of his works, strictly speaking the academic study of Gao Xingjian has not yet begun” (Liu/Poon 2016: 132; translation my own). One should not take Liu’s words as discrediting the value of insightful studies like Tam Kwok-kan’s edited collection Soul of Chaos (2001), Quah Sy Ren’s Gao Xingjian and Chinese Transcultural Theatre (2004), or even Liu Zaifu’s own Chinese-language study On Gao Xingjian (Liu 2004). While these studies have laid the foundation for understanding Gao’s artistic vision and his works, Liu Zaifu calls for more attention to what makes Gao Xingjian an original artist. For Liu, Gao Xingjian’s contributions are groundbreaking and wide-ranging, including novels, plays, paintings, and films. As such, he asks: “What are their a priori sources?”; “How are they realized?”; “What has Gao Xingjian inherited and rejected from Chinese and Western literary traditions?” (2016: 132; translation my own). Continue reading

Poshek Fu essay wins award

MCLC is proud to announce that Poshek Fu’s essay, “More than Just Entertaining: Cinematic Containment and Asia’s Cold War in Hong Kong, 1949-1950,” published in MCLC 30.2 (Fall 2018), has been recommended as one of the Hong Kong Studies Annual Conference’s outstanding papers. Here’s the announcement.–Kirk

On behalf of The Academy of Hong Kong Studies (AHKS), we are very pleased to inform you that your paper entitled “More than Just Entertaining: Cinematic Containment and Asia’s Cold War in Hong Kong, 1949-1959” has been recommended as one of the outstanding papers for the 2019 Hong Kong Studies Annual Conference (HKSAC) to be held on 5 and 6 December 2019. Continue reading

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