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Chinese Language Film

Julian Ward

in Chinese Studies

ISBN: 9780199920082
Published online April 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199920082-0014
Chinese Language Film

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International interest in Chinese cinema in the late 20th and early 21st centuries is often traced back to the showing of Chen Kaige’s Yellow Earth at the Hong Kong Film Festival in 1985. Since then the number of publications from academics and film critics has grown steadily, and the teaching of Chinese cinema has spread through universities and, to a lesser extent, schools across the world. Although an increasing amount of attention is being paid to Chinese-language cinema produced outside Asia, most of the scholarship addresses film made in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Since the early 1980s each of these three very different regions has experienced peaks and troughs of productivity and popularity, both locally and internationally. Not surprisingly, the dramatic social and economic changes that have affected the PRC since the start of the reform period in the 1970s have resulted in that country’s cinema attracting the lion’s share of the attention. The PRC has opened up in many areas such that not only are more films are being made but also many more films from earlier periods, especially the prewar Shanghai era, have been made available. Apart from isolated journal articles, little had been published in non-Chinese languages before the arrival in 1985 of Chris Berry’s edited volume Perspectives on Chinese Cinema (Berry 1991, cited under General Overviews) and Paul Clark’s Chinese Cinema: Culture and Politics since 1949 (Clark 1987, cited under Maoist China) two years later. Over the course of the 1990s several volumes containing papers first aired at international conferences were published along with a number of monographs. More recently specialized studies have appeared, addressing those strands of film writing that are fashionable in any national or regional cinema. These include books about people, whether stars or directors; genres, from queer cinema to ecocinema; and more business-oriented topics, such as piracy and the changing ways people watch film. Furthermore, with the spread of globalization, matters have grown increasingly complicated. Feng Xiaogang, one of the most successful directors from mainland China, made Bu jian bu san in 1998 in America with Ge You and Xu Fan and Big Shot’s Funeral (2001) in Beijing with Donald Sutherland in the lead role. The Taiwanese director Ang Lee won the Academy Award for Best Directing for the English-language Brokeback Mountain (2005), while the biggest stars, including Jackie Chan and Jet Li, have appeared in several Hollywood films, such as The Forbidden Kingdom (2008).

Article.  7652 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Studies ; Asian History ; East Asian Philosophy ; East Asian Religions

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