Posts Tagged ‘communism’

The Selling of Culture in China

Friday, December 18th, 2009
Zhao Dayong

Zhao Dayong

How China is using art (and artists) to sell itself to the world” is an informative and insightful article in The Star by Murray Whyte. It analyzes China’s recent boom in cultural and media industries and its discontents – a burgeoning scene of individual expression. dGenerate directors Ou Ning and Zhao Dayong and producer David Bandurski are featured in the article as prominent representatives of the alternative art scene.

For Whyte, China’s recent supports and displays of cultural development reflect the government’s deep desire to raise “soft power”– “the ability of a political body to get what it wants through cultural or ideological attraction”–in order to match its huge economic development. The efforts include the plans for new museums and “creative districts” nationwide, proliferation of a glossy magazine industry that embraces Western excess, participation in global cultural events such as the Frankfurt Book Fair, the induction of formerly underground filmmakers back into state-run studios, and the production of big-budget political blockbusters such as The Founding of a Republic.


The People’s Republic of Cinema: 60 Years of China on Film in Minneapolis

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Marking the 60th anniversary of “New China,” the Walker Art Center and the University of Minnesota co-present a timely series tracking the decades of political tumult and massive cultural and economic change that followed 1949’s Communist revolution. “The People’s Republic of Cinema” traces the evolution of the nation through the eyes of its most innovative filmmakers, as well as the changed landscape of its film industry.

The fourten films span from the leftist classical, made at the eve of the Communist victory, Crows and Sparrows (1949) to such “model plays” produced during the Cultural Revolution as Red Detachments of Women (1961, modern ballet version 1970) and Red Lantern (1970), from the “historical and cultural reflection” of the fifth generation like One and Eight (1983) and Yellow Earth (1984) to independent products of the sixth and the digital generations, such as Beijing Bastards (1993), Platform (2000), and Good Cats (2009, by dGenerate director Ying Liang, area premiere). As a whole, the series charts the unprecedented propulsive energies at work through years of radical transformation and looks to the future of a country still in flux – one responding both to its past and its relatively new prominence in the larger world.


Sixty Years of Unsanctioned Memories in the People’s Republic

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

At the 60th anniversary of the founding of the P.R.C., published a list of fifteen key independent documentaries as their tribute to the celebration. Entitled “Sixty Years of Unsanctioned Memories in the People’s Republic,” these digital video films present vivid pictures of Chinese life, society and landscape rarely seen in government-approved news or the overwhelming reports about China in mainstream western media. They present and reflect on modern Chinese history from the perspective of common citizens and marginalized social groups. German-Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt distinguishes private and public realms as “the distinction between things that should be hidden and things that should be shown.” These independent works try to break the line and present the hidden, “private” scenes and stories to the public. The list also links to the synopses of the films, some with English translations.


Two Approaches to the New-Generation Patriotic Cinema

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Among the festivities for the 60th Anniversary of the People’s Republic, the most talked-about and sought-after film is undoubtedly The Founding of a Republic (Jianguo Daye), which is also the centerpiece of the fifty movies announced by the government-sponsored China Film Group to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution. Co-directed by Han Sanping, head of the China Film Group, and the Sixth Generation-turned-mainstream director Huang Jianxin, the film traces, or recreates, the history of how sixty years ago Chairman Mao’s revolutionary soldiers overcame Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Party Kuomintang in the civil war to establish the world’s most enduring Communist revolution.

This so-called “leitmotif commercial blockbuster” breaks the pattern of regular political films with its star-studded cast, featuring nearly 200 of China’s well-beloved film professionals, including action heroes Jackie Chan and Jet Li, international star Zhang Ziyi, comedy king Stephen Chow, and even directors Chen Kaige, Jiang Wen, and Feng Xiaogang. In an interview with South Capital Entertainment Weekly, director Han Sanping proudly calls this film an “ingenious cooperation of politics and commerce.” A report on reads “The elder generation watches history; the younger generation counts stars.”


Jian Yi to Show New Documentary at Yale

Monday, September 14th, 2009

dGenerate director Jian Yi (Super, Girls!) is to screen his new work New Socialist Climax (Hong Se Zhi Lü) at the Auditorium of Henry R. Luce Hall, Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut on Thursday, September 17 at 8pm. This special screening is in coordination with the international conference on “Culture, Conflict & Mediation” sponsored by Yale, Cambridge and Qinghua Universities (September 17-19, 2009). A Q&A session with the director will follow.


Shelly on Film: Between the Cracks of Capitalist China

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

By Shelly Kraicer

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

It’s always an interesting time to be in China, a place seemingly without uninteresting times. To be here now, though, lets you see a singular moment in society floating, unpinned, somewhere in between two bankrupt ruling ideologies. The collapse of official Communism/Maoism/Socialism with Chinese characteristics, as the ruling thinking evolved from pre-Liberation through the Cultural Revolution to post-Mao Dengism, is the keynote for lots of standard accounts of China today.

Traditional Chinese culture was, for a time, obliterated by various more or less radical and institutional versions of leftist ideology. These slowly disappeared in fact, though the rote sloganeering formulas persist, especially around the “liang hui” or annual meeting of the Chinese government’s legislative bodies, that took place in the spring. Following Deng Xiaoping’s reforms, and the unbridled embrace of wealth-concentration and manifest corruption in the Jiang Zemin era, the new god became capitalism, in its rawest, unregulated forms. Free market ideology imported from its Western exponents has washed over China, pushing some groups and regions ahead, leaving millions in the interior and the countryside, behind. Now that financial market capitalism is having its own profound existential crisis in the West, does China have to think about tossing out its brand new ruling ideology, right on top of the refuse of the old one? It’s enough to cause a case of ideological whiplash.

What happens when an unstable society starts to face the possibility that its hot new set of ideological nostrums might be just as insubstantial as those it has just recently thrown over? It must be a dizzying sort of disorientation for those Chinese who have invested their new identities in the new ways of thinking.