Posts Tagged ‘platform’

Best Chinese-Language Films of the 2000s: Poll Results

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

 

In the Mood for Love by Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai topped the results of an international poll of the best Chinese-language films of the past decade, conducted by dGenerate Films. The poll included ballots from forty-seven filmmakers, critics, programmers and scholars from around the world. A total of 152 Chinese-language films were cited.

View the full list of ballots from all participants.

In the Mood for Love outpaced a field dominated by mainland Chinese titles, led by Wang Bing‘s seven-hour documentary West of the Tracks and Jia Zhangke‘s historical epic Platform. The two mainland titles are both independent productions made outside the official Chinese state system and have never officially screened in China. Yi Yi, by the late Taiwanese master Edward Yang finished fourth.

The top four titles were each mentioned in at least half of the forty-six ballots submitted by participants. Rounding out the top ten were Jia Zhangke’s Still Life at #5, Jiang Wen’s Devils on the Doorstep at #6, Liu Jiayin’s Oxhide, Lou Ye’s Summer Palace, and Jia Zhangke’s The World tied at #7, and Li Yang’s Blind Shaft and Ang Lee’s transnational blockbuster Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon tied at #9.

Jia Zhangke dominated among directors with seven films mentioned in the poll, three of which finished in the top ten. His films received nearly twice as many mentions as those of the second most-mentioned director, Wong Kar-wai. Works by Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang and Chinese director Lou Ye (who is officially banned from making films in China) also featured prominently in the results.

The results suggest a changing of the guard among mainland Chinese filmmakers over the past decade. The highest placing title by a Fifth Generation director was Zhang Yimou‘s Hero at #22. The eight mainland productions placing in the top eleven are from Sixth Generation directors such as Jia Zhangke or Lou Ye, or the post-Generational wave of digital filmmakers such as Wang Bing and Liu Jiayin. And yet, among these mainland films, only The World was approved by the state censors and released theatrically in mainland China.

Three of the top four films – In the Mood for Love, Yi Yi and Platform – have also placed prominently in polls conducted for all cinema of the past decade. The three films placed in the top ten of the Best of Decade Critics’ Poll run by IndieWire and in the top 11 of the poll run by Film Comment. But aside from Jia Zhangke’s films, the remaining titles on the list have fared poorly in these polls (West of the Tracks, #2 in this poll, places at #49 in IndieWire and #85 in Film Comment).

Oxhide, distributed non-theatrically in the U.S. by dGenerate Films, is the top ranking title by a female director. In addition to Oxhide, nine other dGenerate Films titles received mentions in the poll: Before the Flood (Li Yifan and Yan Yu); Betelnut (dir. Yang Heng); Crime and Punishment (Zhao Liang); Ghost Town (Zhao Dayong); Little Moth (Peng Tao); The Other Half (Ying Liang); Taking Father Home (Ying Liang); Timber Gang aka Last Lumberjacks (Yu Guangyi) and Using (Zhou Hao).

The full list of films, as well as top-ranking Chinese-language directors, can be found after the break. View the full list of ballots from all participants.

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Shelly’s Top Ten Mainland Chinese films of the 2000s

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Oxhide II (dir. Liu Jiayin)

Oxhide 2 (dir. Liu Jiayin)

On Wednesday, dGenerate Films will publish the results of its poll of Chinese filmmakers and experts on the top Chinese language films of the past decade. While the poll includes all Chinese language films, we’d like to take a moment to focus on films from Mainland China. Here are Shelly Kraicer’s top ten Mainland Chinese films of the 2000s, with some observations on key developments in the field over the past ten years. Shelly will give a slightly different list that includes all Chinese-language cinema for the official poll.

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The editors of the dGenerate Films blog have asked me to come up with a list of the ten best Chinese films of the decade (2000-2009). I’ve thought about this for several days, and would prefer to call these the ten films from China that I consider to be the most important from the last ten years. This shifts the emphasis from “best”, from some difficult-do-objectify criterion of excellence to one of significance. Equally non-objective, to be sure, but I feel more comfortable with significance as a subjective criterion. This is for several reasons: one in particular is that “best” seems at least to imply a criterion of professional polish, of mastery, that I would not want to over-value while surveying recent Chinese film.

In fact, the key trend, if I can call it that, of the last decade of Chinese filmmaking seems to be precisely its de-professionalization. Filmmaking has moved beyond the academy, the Beijing Film Academy to be exact, responsible for so many filmmakers superbly trained in their crafts, and towards something much more broadly based and open, dominated by amateur digital filmmaking. These young, often self-trained filmmakers aren’t necessarily making the most well-crafted films out there, but their experiments are often among the most important things happening in cinema in this part of the world.

Rather than ranking films (which is sort of silly: what makes #6 better than #7?), I’d like to group my choices into three larger sets, as follows:

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