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09.27.16

The Perils of Translating a Classic Novel from the Chinese Page to the American Stage

Nick Frisch
Welcome to my dream,” says a Chinese monk pacing along the stage of the San Francisco Opera. So begins Dream of the Red Chamber, a new opera based on the classic Chinese novel of the same name. Its central story is a love triangle framed as Buddhist...

Sony and Wanda Team Up to Market Films in China

Wayne Ma and Erich Schwartzel
Wall Street Journal
Deal could boost Sony Pictures’ box-office returns, strengthen Dalian Wanda’s movie-business profile

A New Literary Genre Critiques the Scariest Part of Life in China: Reality

Adrienne Matei
Quartz
Enter chaohuan, the "ultra-unreal"...

Once a Voice of Young China, Han Han Stakes Out a Different Path

Karoline Kan
New York Times
Han Han discusses his writings, the turns his life has taken and what people in the West fail to understand about China

The People in Retreat

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Ai Xiaoming is one of China’s leading documentary filmmakers and political activists. Since 2004, she has made more than two dozen films, many of them long, gritty documentaries that detail citizen activism or uncover whitewashed historical events...

Sinica Podcast

08.31.16

What Is Cultural About the Cultural Revolution? Creativity Amid Destruction

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, a chaotic decade of Chinese history made infamous in the West through books such as Wild Swans and Life and Death in Shanghai, which describe in horrific detail the...

Books

08.02.16

Creativity Class

Lily Chumley
The last three decades have seen a massive expansion of China’s visual culture industries, from architecture and graphic design to fine art and fashion. New ideologies of creativity and creative practices have reshaped the training of a new generation of art school graduates. Creativity Class is the first book to explore how Chinese art students develop, embody, and promote their own personalities and styles as they move from art school entrance test preparation, to art school, to work in the country’s burgeoning culture industries. Lily Chumley shows the connections between this creative explosion and the Chinese government’s explicit goal of cultivating creative human capital in a new “market socialist” economy where value is produced through innovation.Drawing on years of fieldwork in China’s leading art academies and art test prep schools, Chumley combines ethnography and oral history with analyses of contemporary avant-garde and official art, popular media, and propaganda. Examining the rise of a Chinese artistic vanguard and creative knowledge-based economy, Creativity Class sheds light on an important facet of today’s China. —Princeton University Press{chop}

Sinica Podcast

07.20.16

The Kaiser Kuo Exit Interview

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
This week, Kaiser sits in the guest chair and tells us about his 20-plus years of living in China. He recounts being the front man for the heavy metal band Tang Dynasty and the group’s tour stops in China’s backwater towns, shares his feelings on...

Vietnam TV Station Drops Chinese Drama Over South China Sea Dispute

My Pham
Reuters
The decision comes as several Chinese celebrities speak up against the The Hague’s ruling.

Chinese Architect’s Nature-Infused Buildings Take World By Storm

Kavita Daswani
South China Morning Post
Ma Yansong blurs the lines between lanscaping and architecture, inspired by his Chinese culture....

HBO Asia, China Movie Channel to Co-Produce Martial Arts Flicks for TV

Patrick Brzeski
Hollywood Reporter
The project will be HBO’s first Chinese-language production starring Chinese talent.

Culture

06.29.16

Using Free Sex to Expose Sexual Abuse in China

Jonathan Landreth
Nanfu Wang hoped that a woman called Ye Haiyan (“Hooligan Sparrow”), who had offered free sex on the Internet to draw attention to the plight of poor women selling their bodies to support their children, would lead her to the prostitutes she wanted...

‘Warcraft’ Marches Past $200M, ‘Finding Dory’ Debuts to Solid $17.5M

Patrick Brzeski
Hollywood Reporter
Warcraft is experiencing the big-splash, big-crash pattern followed by nearly every Hollywood tentpole in China this year.

Incendiary Memoir by Chinese Rights Lawyer Reaches Bookshelves Abroad

Michael Forsythe
New York Times
An account of government critique, life in prison, and life under surveillance....

L’Oreal Is Setting A Dangerous Global Precedent By Bowing to China Over Free Speech

Vivienne Chow
Quartz
Lancome cancels concert to appeal to the mainland, sacrificing freedoms for their parnerships....

Caixin Media

06.03.16

Bearing Witness to the China Story

Sheila Melvin
In 1993, Fritz Hoffmann was a young American photojournalist ready for a new adventure. He had honed his picture-making skills while hitchhiking across the Pacific Northwest, harvesting crabs in Alaska, and working at newspapers in West Virginia and...

A New Language for Chinese Film

J. Hoberman from New York Review of Books
Kaili Blues, an eccentric, remarkably assured first feature by the young Chinese director Bi Gan, is both the most elusive and the most memorable new movie that I’ve seen in quite some time—“elusive” and “memorable” being central to Bi’s ambitions...

In Sichuan Province, an Artisan Retreats to China’s Past

Jonah M. Kessel
New York Times
Hanshan, an ethnic Miao, survives by selling the clothing he dyes to the same people he considers too materialistic.

Culture

04.19.16

A Newly Translated Book Revisits Japan and China’s Wartime History

Karen Ma
Award-winning screenwriter and author Geling Yan has written more than 20 novels and short story collections about China, many adapted to film or TV, including Coming Home and The Flowers of War, both of which became feature films directed by Zhang...

Rising in the East

Holly Williams
CBS News
China's film industry has grown so big so fast, that it is now looking to compete with Hollywood...

Viewpoint

04.06.16

Will China Ever Have Its Own Cinematic Superhero?

Anthony Kao
As Batman v Superman attempts to barnstorm cinema box offices worldwide, including in China—now the world’s No. 2 movie marketplace—I’ve been watching a different kind of hero movie: Jian Bing Man.This 2015 Chinese blockbuster isn’t exactly a...

Depth of Field

04.03.16

Meet ‘Depth of Field’: The Month’s Best Chinese Photojournalism

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
Welcome to ChinaFile’s inaugural “Depth of Field” column. In collaboration with Yuanjin Photo, an independent photo blog published by photographers Yan Cong and Ye Ming on the Chinese social media platform WeChat, we will highlight new and...

Reality Show Singer Breaks China's Cultural Revolution Taboo

Tom Phillips
Guardian
Yang Le sings of how he lost his father in Mao’s crackdown on perceived enemies 50 years ago.

Media

03.29.16

‘River Town’ the Movie

Jonathan Landreth from China Film Insider
Not since Iron and Silk premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991 has a movie based on a memoir about teachers on the front lines of U.S.-China relations come to the big screen. Director Shirley Sun’s mostly-English-language film adaptation of...

Market for Chinese Art Is Increasingly in China

Scott Reyburn
New York Times
Chinese decorative art and antiques was one of the few auction sectors that grew in 2015.

Excerpts

03.22.16

Beyond ‘Chicken or Beef’ Choices in China Debates

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
Growing up in California with no special interest in China, one of the few things I associated with the big country across the Pacific was mix-and-match meal creation. On airplanes and in school cafeterias, you just had “chicken or beef” choices,...

Conversation

03.04.16

Xi Jinping: A Cult of Personality?

Jonathan Landreth, Taisu Zhang & more
By some accounts, Chinese Presdient Xi Jinping is the most powerful leader the country has  had since Mao Zedong. One arrow in his quiver that echoes Mao’s armory is Xi’s embrace of popular song, listened to these days not on the radio or...

China Could Beat Hollywood by 2017

Bloomberg
The country’s box-office sales are growing an average of 34 percent a year.

China: No More Weird Buildings

Matt Rivers and Chung Fun
CNN
New guidelines will forbid the construction of "bizarre" and "odd-shaped" buildings that are devoid of character or cultural heritage...

Lost in China’s Exploding Future

Ian Buruma from New York Review of Books
Chinese director Jia Zhangke’s new movie, Mountains May Depart, begins with a disco dance in a bleak mining town to the sounds of “Go West” by the Pet Shop Boys. It is the lunar New Year, 1999. Outside, the end of the millennium is celebrated in a...

Media

01.29.16

‘The New Yorker’ on China

Jiayang Fan, Peter Hessler & more
Following is an edited transcript of a live event hosted at Asia Society New York on December 17, 2015, “ChinaFile Presents: The New Yorker On China.” (The full video appears above.) The evening, introduced by Asia Society President Josette Sheeran...

Conversation

01.13.16

Does Chinese Investment Pose a Threat to Hollywood?

Jonathan Landreth, Stanley Rosen & more
The Wanda Group, China’s leading real estate developer, on Monday paid $3.5 billion for a controlling stake in Hollywood studio Legendary Entertainment, maker of Jurassic World, among other global blockbusters. At a time when Hollywood is...

Culture

01.05.16

In ‘Mr. Six,’ China’s Changing and Staying the Same

Jonathan Landreth from China Film Insider
Playing an aging gangster railing against the “little punks” who kidnapped his son in Beijing, Feng Xiaogang gives a solid performance as the title character of Mr. Six: a gravel-throated vigilante shaken when his go-it-alone rescue effort puts him...

China's Wanda Acquiring Controlling Stake in Legendary Entertainment

Patrick Brzesk and Borys Kit
Hollywood Reporter
Wanda aims to be a global entertainment giant, buying the No. 2 U.S. cinema chain AMC for $2.6B in 2012.

After Mysterious Disappearance, Hong Kong Publisher Claims He Is In China ‘Cooperating with Authorities’

Simon Denyer
Washington Post
Lee Bo specializes in books critical of the Communist Party.

China's Alibaba Pictures Ousts Senior Board Member After Graft Allegations

Patrick Brzeski
Hollywood Reporter
The company hasn't been able to contact the former Tencent executive since he was detained by authorities in July...

Sinica Podcast

12.22.15

While We’re Here: China Stories from a Writers’ Colony

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
When Ernest Hemingway somewhat presciently referred to Paris as a movable feast (“wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you”) he captured the concerns of the long-term expat rather concisely. So why does everyone like to compare...

A Wordless Elegy for China’s War Dead

DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW
New York Times
Mr. Wang explained why he wanted to write a requiem about a war that ended 70 years ago.

Q. and A.: Jindong Cai on ‘Beethoven in China’

Ian Johnson
New York Times
Jindong Cai, 59, is an orchestra conductor and a professor at Stanford University.

China: Novelists Against the State

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Can writers help an injured society to heal? Did Ōe Kenzaburō, who traveled to Hiroshima in 1963 to interview survivors of the dropping of the atomic bomb on that city eighteen years earlier, and then published a moving book called Hiroshima Notes,...

Media

11.10.15

Chinese Hits Miss Out on the Global Box Office

Jonathan Landreth from China Film Insider
If he’d had the time after meeting American captains of industry in Seattle and Barack Obama at the White House, Chinese President Xi Jinping might have ducked out at the close of his United Nations appearance and into a New York movie theater to...

Culture

11.04.15

Zhang Yimou: ‘Even Though Our Market Is Growing Fast, We’re Still Not Satisfied’

Jonathan Landreth
Hollywood has Steven Spielberg and China has Zhang Yimou, the senior statesman of moviemaking in the People’s Republic. From Red Sorghum, his 1987 debut right out of the Beijing Film Academy, through Hero, which grossed more in America in 2002 than...

Showing Another Side of China - via Instagram

Celia Hatton
BBC
One night last spring, two veteran photojournalists working in Beijing came up with an interesting idea.

Media

10.29.15

Ai Weiwei Doesn’t Need Anyone to Give Him Legos

James Palmer
The noted Chinese artist and perennial dissident Ai Weiwei recently announced that Lego, a Denmark-based company, had refused his request to purchase more than a million of the tiny toy bricks for an Australian display of his work “Trace,” a...

Culture

10.26.15

Xi Jinping on What’s Wrong with Contemporary Chinese Culture

from China Film Insider
At the Beijing Forum on Literature and Art last October, President Xi Jinping spoke to a high-level audience of arts professionals about the role of arts and culture in China. The event, along with excerpts of the October 15, 2014 speech, given in...

Caixin Media

10.23.15

Hemingway's Literary Escape

Sheila Melvin
One noonday in 2002, a friendly acquaintance of mine—I’ll call him Q—left his office in a Beijing concert hall to go to lunch and never returned. After a series of inquiries, his wife and colleagues learned that he had been arrested. Various charges...

Mao and Other Cultural Inspirations

RANDY KENNEDY
New York Times
“An army without culture is a dull-witted army,” Mao Zedong wrote, “and a dull-witted army cannot defeat the enemy.”

Culture

10.07.15

Jia Zhangke on Finding Freedom in China on Film

Jonathan Landreth
Jia Zhangke is among the most celebrated filmmakers China has ever produced—outside of China. His 2013 film, A Touch of Sin, a weaving-together of four tales of violence ripped from modern-day newspaper headlines, won the Best Screenplay award at...

A Painting of China’s First Lady, Before a Rise to Stardom

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
On the exhibition notes, the painting of Peng Liyuan by Jin Shangyi is identified only as “a well-known singer.”

Culture

10.02.15

In Zhang Yimou’s ‘Coming Home’ History is Muted But Not Silent

Eva Shan Chou
Coming Home, directed by the celebrated Zhang Yimou and released in the U.S. last week, begins as a man escapes a labor camp in China’s northwest and tries to return home. But he is captured when he and his wife attempt to meet, after their daughter...

Media

10.02.15

Meet China’s Salman Rushdie

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
On a warm late afternoon in June, I sat with Perhat Tursun as he slowly exhaled a puff of smoke from a blue cigarette with shiny gold trim. Arrayed on the pale lace tablecloth before us was an assortment of nuts, sunflower seeds, and wine. The...

From Amateur to Professional: A 25-Year Photographic Journey

Mark Leong
National Geographic
These old photos are a record of a time now gone, not just for a developing China but also for an updated version of myself. 

Sinica Podcast

09.24.15

Hip Hop in China

Kaiser Kuo, David Moser & more from Sinica Podcast
Kaiser Kuo and David Moser are joined today by Jerry Chan and Matt Sheehan for a look at hip-hop in China. Both guests should be familiar to long-time listeners in Beijing. Jerry has been involved with the local music scene for over a decade and now...

China Teaching Troops Folk Dances to Make Friends in Xinjiang

Ben Blanchard
Reuters
China's military tries to improve relations with the minority people who live there...

‘I Try to Talk Less’: A Conversation with Ai Weiwei and Liao Yiwu

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In late July, Chinese authorities renewed travel privileges for conceptual artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, ending a five-year prohibition following his arrest in 2011. He promptly flew to Munich and then Berlin, where he has accepted a...

Culture

09.11.15

French Director’s Chinese Movie Balances Freedom With Compromise

Jonathan Landreth
In 2012, French movie director Jean-Jacques Annaud got a warm welcome in China after more than a dozen years as persona non grata there for having offended official Chinese Communist Party history with his 1997 film Seven Years in Tibet—the story of...

China: Through the Looking Glass

Maura Cunningham
Orientalism is generally understood as a bad thing. What the “Through the Looking Glass” exhibit designers attempted to do was reclaim Orientalism, demonstrating that Western designers might only have a superficial understanding of China, but that...

Japanese Demons and Crotch Bombs: The Tense State of Asian Cinema

Patrick St. Michel
Atlantic
Movies from South Korean, China, and Japan have become increasingly nationalistic, thanks to ongoing territorial disputes and the 70th anniversary of World War II.

Culture

09.09.15

The Met Goes to China

Jeffrey Wasserstrom
In July, while in New York, I toured The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s much buzzed about “China: Through the Looking Glass,” a visually stunning multimedia exhibit that showcases the varied ways that Western fashion designers have been inspired by...

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