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GreenCine Movie Talk
From Albania to Zaire, there's a whole world out there.

Asian Cinema
Topic by: Eoliano
Posted: January 11, 2003 - 8:58 AM PST
Last Reply: April 12, 2003 - 9:57 AM PDT

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author topic: Asian Cinema
post #61  on February 14, 2003 - 3:07 PM PST  
nope, no such info on the site. woah, though, they're playing unknown pleasures! yay!
post #62  on February 14, 2003 - 10:32 PM PST  
You know, sometimes I think that the coolest thing about GC aint the rentals but getting the inside track/scoop from you guys. :>
post #63  on February 15, 2003 - 12:32 PM PST  

NAATA is co-presenting a free series of documentaries through March 4th at the CHSA Learning Center, 965 Clay Street.

There will be a couple of panels at the fest, Bollywood and America - New Directions, New Markets and The Intimate Art of DV Filmmaking.

The Bollywood panel will be moderated by David Chute who edited the May/June 2002 Film Comment Bollywood issue (some articles are archived a little ways down hereHe also edited an earlier famous issue on Hong Kong cinema and there are lots of articles on his website).

The printed program has more detais than the website. I don't have it with me right now, but another panelis will be the head of the Naz theaters which are located in Fremont, Sunnyvale, Houston, and near LA.
post #64  on February 21, 2003 - 4:40 PM PST  
Who are the 'fifth generation directors'?

I often see this phrase in reviews of Chinese films and I am not literate enough in Chinese Cinema to know who they're referring to.

I thought perhaps somebody here would know.
post #65  on February 21, 2003 - 6:13 PM PST  
"fifth generation" includes ZHANG yimou, CHEN kaige, TIAN Zhuangzhuang (The Horse Thief; The Blue Kite), LI shaohong (Blush), ZHANG Junzhao (One and Eight), and WOO Ziniu (Evening Bell) and maybe a few other people.

the following comes from a good document explaining the relationships of the generations. they include some more directors in the list, but they leave out LI shaohong:


A Typology of "Generations" in Chinese Film History

Here is an overview of the generational notions of Chinese film history, to give you a sense of how the "Fifth Generation" directors are defined within and against previous generations of Chinese filmmakers. Incidentally, the whole notion of generations evolved with the Fifth Generation -- scholars then looked back and defined the earlier groups (i.e., while Fifth Gen. directors thought of themselves as a cohesive group, it is highly unlikely that directors in the 1930s grouped themselves as such at the time.)

Bear in mind that these "generations" have much the same sense of "periods" in art history or "movements" in literary history -- provisional, after-the-fact, and grossly generalizing -- narrative handles by which we are able to streamline and process history.

Nevertheless, in the case of Chinese film history, generational notions do hold some power, since these filmmakers (esp. the later groupings) often worked in collaboration with one another under nearly identitical institutional and political constraints, shared similar cultural backgrounds, and thought of themselves as part of a cohesive generation to a degree rarely seen in other traditions or movements in literature, art, or filmmaking.

The Fifth Generation

The class of 1982 from the Beijing Film Academy. Closed down in 1966 at the start of the Cultural Revolution, the Academy reopened in 1978, taking 153 students.

These students had access to a much wider range of international cinema than any previous generation of Academy students -- they were exposed to Visconti, Bergman, Fellini, Antionioni, Kuosawa, Tarkovsky, Truffaut, Godard, Fassbinder, Pasolini. According to Chen Kaige (dir. of Yellow Earth), he and his fellow students shared a profound contempt for the cinema with which they had grown up.

More than any previous grouping, the Fifth Generation filmmakers came of age together. Most were exact contemporaries of the PRC (born around 1949), had experienced the Cultural Revolution as Red Guards or had been sent to the countryside as "urban youth" (zhiqing) to be reeducated -- all of which became recurrent themes in their work.

Since film production had been nearly non-existent for ten years from 1966-1976, the major film studios in Beijing and Shanghai were populated with veteran directors waiting their turn at filmmaking. The graduates of 1982 were therefore dispersed to out-of-the-way provincial film studios like Xi'an (northwest China) and Guangzhou (south) for their assignments; ironically, this marginalization gave them both the raw material for their filmmaking and the relative creative freedom that came from being far away from the PRC central government and from their more established elders.

The group's godfather was a Fourth Generation director--Wu Tianming, head of Xi'an Film Studios. He actively supported the Fifth Generation directors in their first ventures. Wu is an important director in his own right: his best-known works include "Old Well" (Lao Jing, 1987, starred Zhang Yimou) and "The King of Masks" (Bian lian, 1996).

First breakthrough film of the Fifth Generation: the 1983 "The One and the Eight" (Yi ge he ba ge) set during the Anti-Japanese war, was directed by Zhang Junzhao with Zhang Yimou (dir. Red Sorghum) as the film's cinematographer.

As a group the class of 1982 became known as "The Fifth Generation," a moniker which came to include several directors not from that class, but who shared philosophical affinities with the group. The seven directors most often associated with the group are Chen Kaige, Zhang Yimou, Zhang Junzhao, Tian Zhuangzhuang (dir. of Horse Thief, On the Hunting Ground, Blue Kite), Wu Ziniu (dir. of Nanjing 1937), Huang Jianxin (dir. of Black Cannon Incident, Dislocation, Samsara), Hu Mei (dir. of Army Nurse, only prominent woman director associated with the group), Zhou Xiaowen (dir. of Ermo, Emperor's Shadow).

+ + +

When western critics discovered the Fifth Generation in the mid-1980s, they often fancied that these young directors had sprung fully formed from the head of Mao. However, a strong legacy of filmmaking existed before the Fifth Generation -- here is a rough typology.

First generation refers to the pioneers who introduced film into China in the early years, with productions mainly consisting of filmed Beijing operas, exotic romances, martial arts films (See slides from Week 3 on website; or the recent fiction film "Shadow Magic," which we saw a clip of in class). The New Culture Movement and May Fourth foment were not subjects in this almost completely entertainment cinema; in fact, in the early years, May Fourth intellectuals were either indifferent or actively disdainful of this new popular art form.

The second generation were the 1930s and 40s filmmakers were really developed the realist tradition in Chinese film. Dominated by the cultural left, these filmmakers engaged actively with social-political life, and were influenced creatively both Soviet and Hollywood cinemas, as well as traditional Chinese theatre. This is often thought as the golden age of Chinese cinema (think New Woman and Crows and Sparrows; you saw a number of these directors -- such as Fei Mu, Wu Yonggang, Sun Yu, Cai Chusheng -- portrayed in Stanley Kwan's 1991 film Center Stage.)

The third generation, then, were the ėrevolutionary film workers' who grew up in the Communist army and taught themselves filmmaking, and were not initially trained in the Shanghai commercial cinema as had the second generation filmmakers. Socialist realism and revolutionary romanticism were their offical styles, and their heyday was in the fifities and sixties. Third generation filmmakers created the legitimate edition of "reality" in PRC China. The films were concerned with a ėsocialist aesthetic' and contributed to a formation of a Chinese socialist popular culture which became the basis of much of the aesthetic of the Cultural Revolution. (Think Red Lantern.) A classic third generation director, Xie Jin (Stage Sisters, Red Detachment of Women) is also the charmeleon of Chinese cinema: he reemerged in the early 1980s and directed a series of films that were considered "Chinese Hollywood" style, and then finished the 1990s with a bang with Opium War, a big-budget war extravaganza celebrating Chinese nationalism and the 1997 return of Hong Kong.

Fourth generation filmmakers were the first professional filmmakers to come of age in Communist China, receiving their formal training before 1966 but did not have the opportunity to make any of their own films until after the Cultural Revolution. In many ways the "Fourth Generation" were defined after the fact, after the Fifth Generation came into being. They were also making films in the 1980s, but were overshadowed by the Fifth Generation -- their styles tended towards classical melodrama, or sentimental humanism: less didactic than their predecessors, and with an aim towards rehumanization and a more naturalistic style. The most well-known Fourth Generation filmmakers are probably Xie Fei (Girl From Hunan, Woman from the Lake of Scented Souls) and Wu Tianming (Old Well).

+ + +

In 1987, studios took up full financial accountability so films were made with more of an eye to the market and to their entertainment value. Large-scale revolutionary films like The Decisive Engagement (Da juezhan, 1991) and more commercials films such as urban comedies went into production, and studios began to write off the more obscure, arty films of the Fifth Generation directors. This period (late 1980s to the present) also marked the birth of independent or foreign-financed cinema, giving rise to the so-called Sixth Generation. Unlike previous ėgenerations,' however, this group of filmmakers did not share similar schooling nor did they usually collaborate on projects -- if anything, their only common ground was the fact of being defined as "post-Fifth Generation." Some directors grouped under this rubric include Zhang Yuan (Beijing Bastards, East Palace West Palace), Jiang Wen (In the Heat of the Sun, Devils at the Door), Zhang Yang (Spicy Love Soup, Shower), Wang Xiaoshuai (Frozen), Jia Zhangke (Xiao Wu, Platform).

During this time, many of the Fifth Generation filmmakers started to target their films more towards the international art film circuit, with large-scale epic sagas of China -- think Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concubine, Temptress Moon, or Zhang Yimou's To Live.

post #66  on February 21, 2003 - 6:23 PM PST  
Hey Thanks,

you rock.
post #67  on February 21, 2003 - 6:45 PM PST  
yeah isn't that a great summary! i think a few of those movies are here, too. /a>, the biopic of ruan ling-yu, is here, i think. it's really good.

back when i posted this
top 100 chinese language movies link, which is still active. it's a good road map for that generations list, and includes taiwanese film, too.
post #68  on February 21, 2003 - 6:46 PM PST  

YEAH! isn't that a great summary! i think a few of those movies are here, too. centre stage, the biopic of ruan ling-yu, is here, i think. it's really good.

back when i posted this top 100 chinese language movies link, which is still active. it's a good road map for that generations list, and includes taiwanese film, too.
post #69  on February 21, 2003 - 7:32 PM PST  
though it's a little bit bumpy for a map, with all those HK films in there. nice to know what "xian" means as a location, though! what a useful bit of info it is about wu tianming and getting sent off to the sticks and all.
post #70  on February 23, 2003 - 12:42 PM PST  
Centre Stage AKA The Actress is an exceptionally fine film and Maggie Cheung is absolutely splendid.

It's a pity that so many of the films on the 100 Greatest Chinese Films of the 20th Century list are not available, though I suppose we should be grateful for those that are.
post #71  on February 24, 2003 - 11:22 AM PST  
some were available on VHS but i can't find the damn link to their sales web site - i must have left it in my other pants or something - the distributors may have switched to DVD by now.
post #72  on February 25, 2003 - 11:45 AM PST  
>>i can't find the damn link to their sales web site - i must have left it in my other pants

Which, I suppose, went to the laundry!

There is always
post #73  on February 25, 2003 - 6:43 PM PST  
hey i noticed a bunch of new indian pop cinema flix. were these particular titles in demand? are you guys going to try to get older stuff, too?
post #74  on February 26, 2003 - 12:59 PM PST  
> ---------------------------------
> hey i noticed a bunch of new indian pop cinema flix. were these particular titles in demand? are you guys going to try to get older stuff, too?
> ---------------------------------

And by older, we mean elderly. Big, slow, careful musical numbers with hundreds of elderly Indian men and women, all singing (those not on oxygen) a tale of love that transcends time.
post #75  on February 26, 2003 - 1:44 PM PST  

I just started a topic on Indian Cinema.
post #76  on February 26, 2003 - 2:49 PM PST  
> a tale of love that transcends time.

and rheumatism.
post #77  on February 26, 2003 - 4:27 PM PST  
> On February 26, 2003 - 2:49 PM PST DPOWERS wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > a tale of love that transcends time.
> and rheumatism.
> ---------------------------------

I love how in the film's third hour, when the courtship finally draws to its conclusion and our two romantic protagonists kiss then there's some awkward fumbling and when the kiss breaks, they each have the others' dentures in their mouths.

It's so cute I can't stand it!
post #78  on February 26, 2003 - 5:22 PM PST  
i thought that whole sequence was hackneyed, dumb-ass formula until the dentures started singing and dancing! that is like my favorite scene in any movie ever. and what a message of hope when the granddaughter ends up with the septagenarian family friend instead of the young banker, really beautiful.

i gotta get tickets for that film festival. i bet things are sold out already. i hate paying $10-per-ticket fees on the web sites though.
post #79  on February 27, 2003 - 4:28 PM PST  

The box office for the SF Int. Asian American Fest is open at the Kabuki:

THURS 02.20.03 - THU 03.06.03 | 3PM TO 8PM

FRI 03.07.03-THU 03.13.03 | 11AM TO 10PM
post #80  on February 27, 2003 - 5:47 PM PST  

Also I'll be writing more about it, but I wanted to let peopple know that one of several excellent docs at the fest Games of Our Lives will be showing in in a number of cities over the next week.

It is about the 1966 North Korean World Cup Soccer team and provides a rare look at that country. The filmmakers will be speaking at the screenings about their recent trip to North Korea and showing slides of a reunion trip by the team to England.

It will be shown in NYC on Friday, Philadelphia on Saturday, Vienna, Virginia on Sunday, DC on Monday, Chicago on Tuesday and Wednesday, and LA on Thursday, and Sacramento on March 12th. Complete details are at the bottom of this press release. As part of the fest, it will be at the Castro on March 8th at 1 pm, PFA at 7:30 pm on the 10th, and the Camera in San Jose on the 15th at 3 pm.
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