China Cinema

According to, there are two seemingly conflicting elements that have characterized Chinese cinema over the past decade. On the one hand, over the years, the number of films produced has increased significantly. According to official data from the State administration of press, publication, radio, film and television, 618 feature films were produced in 2014, down from the 638 declared for 2013 and 745 in 2012. However, there was a substantial increase in the box. office (+ 36.2%) and a market share of local films of 54.5% (in 2013 it was 58.7%). The China, therefore, together with the United States and India, was the country where more films were made in the world. The number of open rooms has increased year by year, with an average of about 4000 per year. And the historic overtaking of Hollywood cinema is already dreaming. According to Wang Jainlin, president and founder of the Wanda group, which has plans to build the largest studios in the world with an investment of around 6 billion euros, this could happen as early as 2018, and in 2023 the number could even be double the number. to films produced in the United States. Despite the success that is strengthening the national industry, however, the lack of content in most of the works, in which famous stars also participate, has often been contested.

On the other hand, however, there is another reality represented by the awards obtained in major international festivals. Since 2005, Chinese directors have been awarded a Golden Lion (Sanxia haoren, 2006, Still life, by Jia Zhang-ke) and a Silver Lion (Ren shan ren hai, 2011, People mountain people sea, by Cai Shangjun) at the Venice Film Festival, one jury prize (Qing hong, 2005, Shanghaidreams, by Wang Xiaoshuai) and two for the screenplay (Chun feng chen zui de ye wan, 2009, Spring fever, assigned to Mei Feng and directed by Lou Ye; Tian zhu ding, 2013, The Touch of Sin, by Jia Zhang-ke) at the Cannes Film Festival, two golden bears (Tuya de hun shi, 2006, Tuya’s wedding, by Wang Quan’an; Bai ri yan huo, 2014, Black coal, thin ice, by Yinan Diao), and a Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize (Kong que, 2005, by Gu Changwei) at the Berlinale and two consecutive Golden Leopards (She, a Chinese, 2009, by Guo Xiaolu; Han Jia, 2010, Winter vacation, by Li Hongqi) at the Locarno Film Festival. However, some of these titles turned out to be invisible at home, such as Tian zhu ding. This is due to the strong power of censorship that has affected both Chinese-produced films and international films distributed in the territory. In the best of cases there have been substantial cuts and changes in the plot and dialogues: this is the case of Se, jie (2007, Lust. Seduction and betrayal), by Ang Lee, a China-United States co-production set in the Shanghai of 1942 occupied by Japanese troops, winner of the Golden Lion in Venice, circulated at home in versions without sex scenes. In the worst cases, however, the films did not come out and the directors put on the index, as happened to Lou Ye who in Cannes, in competition, had presented in 2006 Yihe yuan (Summer palace) about the events in Tiananmen Square, one of the events that cannot be shown on the big screen.

Tian Zhu Ding scene

Since the beginning of the nineties, the most famous directors distributed in the cinema in Italy are Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige. And it was Man cheng jin dai huang jin jia (2006, The Forbidden City), a wuxia set in the 10th century China, the last film by Zhang to be circulated in our country. Subsequently, after directing the opening ceremony of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing (2008), he directed, among others, San qiang pai an jing qi (2009, Easy Blood), a remake of Blood simple (1984) by Joel Coen, and the excellent Jin ling shi san chai (2011, known as The flowers of war), a war film with the breath of melodrama centered on the Nanking massacre that took place in China in 1937, with Christian Bale in the role of an American undertaker who pretends to be a missionary to defend some girls from the violence of the Japanese. Chen Kaige in turn directed wuxia Wu ji (2005, The promise), followed by Mei Lanfang (2008, Forever enthralled), a mix of biopic and historical blockbuster, Zhao shi gu er (2010, Sacrifice) and the thriller d ‘ modern setting His hers (2012, Caught in the web) where, behind the imposing figurative structure, a clear lack of inspiration emerges compared to the past.

Scene from The flowers of war

The most interesting name of Chinese cinema that has emerged in the last decade is that of Jia Zhang-ke who has been able to show the effects of progress and individual alienation, in a cinema that is continually suspended between fiction and documentary. After Shi jie (2004, The world), he signed the extraordinary Sanxia haoren, an example of rapid and incessant transformation of the landscape, with the Chinese town of Fengjie which is now about to disappear due to the construction of the Three Gorges dam, followed, among the others, from Er shi si cheng ji (2008, 24 city), Hai shang chuan qi (2010, I wish I knew), documentary on Shanghai, and Tian zhu ding. The film, called “one of the best Chinese films of all time” by “Le Monde”, marked a change in the director’s style, with a speed that recalls King Hu and Johnny To, a dry representation of violence and the ability to show the effects of the change of the metropolis in contemporary China on the four protagonists.

Among the international stars there are the actresses Gong Li (also starring in Miami Vice, 2006, by Michael Mann), Zhang Ziyi and Zhao Tao (who in Italy won the David di Donatello as best actress for Io sono Li, 2011, by Andrea Segre). Among the filmmakers who have established themselves both at home and internationally, in addition to the aforementioned Wang Xiaoshuai (Zuo you, 2007, In love we trust ; Wo 11, 2011, 11 flowers ; Chuang ruzhe, 2014, Red amnesia), Lou Ye (Love and bruises, 2011; Fu cheng mi shi, 2012, Mistery; Tui na, 2014, Blind massage), Yinan Diao (Ye che, 2007, Night train) and Wang Quan’an (Fang zhi gu niang, 2009, Weaving girl ; Tuan yuan, 2010, Apart together ; Bai lu yuan, 2011, White deer plain), also worth noting is Feng Xiaogang (Ye yan, 2006, The banquet; Tang shan da di zhen, 2010, After shock; Si ren ding zhi, 2013, Personal tailor).

San Zimei scene

Leading documentarian is Wang Bing. In his films reality is reproduced with an essential style in showing often claustrophobic spaces, with an enviable lucidity, but also with intense emotional participation. After unearthing the odyssey of an elderly political dissident in post-war China in He Fengming (2007, A Chinese memoir), her investigation shifted to citizens sentenced to a labor camp in the late 1950s. Gobi desert in Jiabiangou (2010, The ditch), on the difficult everyday life of three abandoned Chinese sisters who live in the remote Yunnan village in San Zimei (2012, Three sisters, winner of the Orizzonti award at the Venice Film Festival) and on the events of patients interned in a psychiatric hospital in Feng ai (2013, Til madness do us part).

China Cinema