Media

01.13.15

This Culture Has Not Yet Been Rated

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
It all started with plunging necklines. After the sudden withdrawal and subsequent sanitizing of a popular Chinese show, viewers in China have renewed longstanding calls to strip government censors of their power, using one simple solution: a...

Drawing the News: Wo Shi Chali (Je Suis Charlie)

Anne Henochowicz
China Digital Times
Chinese cartoonists and netizens have responded quickly to the slaying of cartoonists and editors at the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Masked gunmen entered the offices of the journal and fired automatic weapons at staff in an...

Caixin Media

01.06.15

In Praise of Hu Feng

Sheila Melvin
Hu Feng (1902-85) is a name that most students of P.R.C. history have undoubtedly encountered at one time or another. I remember reading it for the first time years ago in Jonathan Spence's "The Search for Modern China." It stuck in...

Beijing’s Art Scene Raises Its Profile

Vanessa Able
New York Times
On a recent Sunday afternoon in the sunken terrace of Beijing’s sleek Opposite House Hotel, an art event was in full swing. The wine was chilling, the dumplings steaming and a few dozen locals and foreigners were looking on with curiosity as the...

Other

12.30.14

A Look Back at 2014

It’s hard to believe, but ChinaFile is almost two years old. It’s been an exciting year for us, and, as ever, an eventful year for China. It was a year of muscular leadership from Xi Jinping, who has now been in office just over two years and who...

Books

12.23.14

Top Five China Books of 2014

Laura Chang
As the editor of ChinaFile’s Books section, I have the privilege of meeting and interviewing some amazing writers covering China today—academics, journalists, scholars, activists. Based on these conversations, we create short videos of the...

Culture

12.19.14

‘One Day the People Will Speak Out for Me’

Sheila Melvin
The ongoing exhibition “@Large: Ai Weiwei at Alcatraz” is both revelatory and heart-wrenching, a stunning and sobering work by an artist who understands firsthand the fragility and pricelessness of freedom.Detained without warning or charge for 81...

Fidel Castro Wins China’s Alternative Peace Prize

Associated Press
Guardian
In line with past recipients, the ailing Castro did not come to Beijing to pick up his award and it was unclear whether he was aware of the honour. The prize, in the form of a gold statuette and certificate, was instead handed to a Cuban foreign...

Environmental Filmmakers Have Rare Impact in China

Louise Watt
Associated Press
One clip shows a girl swatting flies from a younger child among piles of trash. Another has children blowing up used medical gloves like balloons. The footage is on the computer screen of Wang Jiuliang as he edits his second film about waste harming...

Chinese Online Giants Eating Into U.S. Dominance of Digital Media

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
China now accounts for two of the six companies with the highest online media revenues and four of the 10 fastest-growing, according to a report from the global research and advisory company Strategy Analytics.

China Will Be Banishing Its Creative Class to the Countryside

John Dyer
Vice News
Chinese President Xi Jinping is channeling the late communist revolutionary Mao Zedong in a potential crackdown on China's burgeoning creative class...

As Chinese Duo Perform at American Music Awards, Those at Home Are Skeptical

Te-Ping Chen and Yang Jie
Wall Street Journal
In an indication of how fragile domestic confidence is in the country’s cultural exports, many Chinese commentators were immediately skeptical of the award’s authenticity. By the next morning on Weibo, the phrase “Chopstick Brothers bought an award...

Xi and Peng Now Have a Song of Their Own

South China Morning Post
After a series of high-profile events highlighting their marriage bonds, China’s president, Xi Jinping, and his wife, Peng Liyuan, now have a song praising their relationship.

Los Angeles Mayor Presses China to Allow More Hollywood Films

Gerry Shih
Reuters
Hollywood producers, eager to build ties to the world's second-largest film market, have embraced an influx of Chinese capital in recent years, leading to a series of high-profile partnerships...

Writers Phil Klay and Evan Osnos win top National Book Awards

Patricia Reaney
Reuters
Klay was awarded the fiction prize for "Redeployment," his book of stories about the wars in Afghanistan. Osnos earned his award for "Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China" in the non-fiction...

“Hunger Games” China Release Date canceled, Likely Due to “Revolutionary” Political Content

Cecilia Wang
That’s
The film's sudden withdrawal may be due to the film's apparently incendiary content, depicting a fictitious revolution aimed at toppling a dystopian future government. It's feared that movie-goers might draw parallels to Taiwan's...

As Chinese Adoptees Return Home, a New Genre Tells Their Tales

Mei Fong
Wall Street Journal
"Ricki’s Promise” a documentary about a Seattle teen’s summer spent with her birth family in China, began showing on the U.S. film festival circuit this month. Next month, the U.S. cable network SundanceTV will premiere “One Child,” a fictional...

Conversation

11.12.14

Xi Jinping’s Culture Wars

Stanley Rosen, Michael Berry & more
Given China’s tightening restrictions on film, TV, art, writing, and journalism, and the reverberations from President Xi Jinping’s recent speech on culture, we asked contributors why they think Beijing has decided to ramp up its involvement in the...

‘A Map of Betrayal,’ by Ha Jin

Ben Macintyre
New York Times
Many years ago, the F.B.I. coined an acronym, MICE, to describe the motivations of the spy. This stands for Money, Ideology, Compromise and Ego. All spies, it is argued, are drawn into espionage by some combination of these factors.

Culture

11.07.14

‘The Training Wheels Are Coming Off,’ But That’s Not Necessarily A Good Thing

Jonathan Landreth
Making a movie is a wild ride no matter where you are in the world, a process fraught with ego and pride; wobblier, riskier, yet potentially more lucrative, the bigger and faster it gets.With U.S. gross sales of movie tickets basically flat, up just...

In Pictures: Designed in China

BBC
The Guo Shoujing Telescope, or Large Sky Area Multi-Object Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope, is named after the 13th Century Chinese astronomer and is aimed at bringing Chinese astronomy into the 21st Century.

Toronto School District Cancels Plans for Confucius Institute

Austin Ramzy
New York Times
Canada’s largest school district moved to terminate its agreement with the institute, which would have offered after-school Chinese language and culture classes, over concerns about China’s human rights record and restrictions on academic freedom.

600-Year-Old Chinese Book Found in California

Lian Zi
China Daily
The manuscript of a unique volume of the Yongle Encyclopedia (Yongle Dadian), a 16th century Chinese encyclopedia, was uncovered by a Chinese archivist at the Huntington Library in southern California.

China’s Crackdown on Dissent Shows How Nervous Its Leaders Are

The Washington Post Editorial Board
Washington Post
The legal assault on a critic of Mao gives a flavor of the current climate. Tie Liu is the pen name of Huang Zerong, 81, who has collected and published memoirs of people who were purged by Chinese dictator Mao Zedong in the 1950s and 1960s.

Why China Chose a French-Directed Film as Its Oscar Submission

Lilian Lin and Josh Chin
Wall Street Journal
“It’s a mild, breezy, accessible, feel-good drama which really pictures China as a harmonious, wonderful place where conflicts of various stripes—across age, class or geographical divides—could easily be reconciled,” said Clarence Tsui, a film...

Dispatches From Xinjiang: The Uyghur Blockbuster “Money On The Road”

Beige Wind
Beijing Cream
The comedy Money on the Road (Money Found on the Way in Chinese) features an ensemble of stars, including a cameo by the famous singer Abdulla. It follows the misadventures of three Uyghur farmers who come to the city as migrant workers to...

China’s Alibaba Reportedly Eyeing 37 Percent Stake in Lionsgate

Etan Vessing
Hollywood Reporter
The New York Post reported on Friday that the chairman of Lionsgate is looking to unload his influential stake in the mini-studio, with Ma in line to possibly buy it.

Books

10.21.14

Hou Hsiao-hsien

Richard I. Suchenski, Editor
For younger critics and audiences, Taiwanese cinema enjoys a special status, comparable with that of Italian Neorealism and the French New Wave for earlier generations, a cinema that was and is in the midst of introducing an innovative sensibility and a fresh perspective. Hou Hsiao-hsien is the most important Taiwanese filmmaker working today, and his sensuous, richly nuanced films reflect everything that is vigorous and genuine in contemporary film culture. By combining multiple forms of tradition with a uniquely cinematic approach to space and time, Hou has created a body of work that, through its stylistic originality and historical gravity, opens up new possibilities for the medium. This new volume includes contributions by Olivier Assayas, Peggy Chiao, Chung Mong-hong, Jean-Michel Frodon, Hasumi Shigehiko, Ichiyama Shōzō, Jia Zhang-ke, Kent Jones, Koreeda Hirokazu, Jean Ma, Ni Zhen, Abé Mark Nornes, James Quandt, Richard I. Suchenski, James Udden, and Wen Tien-hsiang, as well as conversations with Hou Hsiao-hsien and some of his most important collaborators over the decades.  —Columbia University Press {chop}

When Hong Kong Protests Are Over, Where Will the Art Go?

Ramy Inocencio
Wall Street Journal
As Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests wane, what will become of the iconic artwork Umbrella Man, the Lennon Wall of sticky notes and all the banners?...

Caixin Media

10.14.14

Sounds of Distinction

Sheila Melvin
The Peking Opera star Mei Lanfang (1894-1961) is generally acknowledged to have been the greatest performer of female dan roles in the history of his art. He was also a renowned theatrical innovator whose performance style is carried on as the...

China Approves $3.25 Billion Universal Theme Park in Beijing

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
The facility will cover a 300-acre site in the suburbs of China's capital...

Chinese Media Accuse Japanese Manga Star Doraemon of Subverting Youth

Justin McCurry
Guardian
“Doraemon is a part of Japan’s efforts of exporting its national values and achieving its cultural strategy; this is an undisputed fact,” the local communist party newspaper Chengdu Daily said in an editorial.

Media

10.10.14

China Bans Law-Breaking Actors From Movies and Television

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
Amid an ongoing government campaign against drugs, prostitution, and other moral vices, a powerful government agency has reportedly issued new regulations banning actors with histories of drug use or prostitution from appearing in movies and...

China’s Wanda to Create Movie Fund to Attract Hollywood Productions

Abid Rahman
Hollywood Reporter
Wanda's billionaire chairman, Wang Jianlin, said the planned fund would work with the private sector to recreate Hollywood in China...

China Detains Poet Wang Zang and 7 Others Ahead of Hong Kong Event

Jack Chang and Isolda Morillo
Huffington Post
On Sept. 30, Wang Zang had posted on Twitter a picture of himself raising his middle finger and holding an umbrella, a symbol of solidarity adopted by the protesters demanding open nominations for Hong Kong's chief executive...

A Cinematic Context for Hong Kong’s Turmoil

Edward Wong
New York Times
Hong Kong’s film industry, commercial and broad-based as it is, has always provided a mirror of the territory’s political anxieties, and a record of its complex history.

Busan: China’s Online Movie Revenues Forecast to Match Box Office in 5 Years

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
China's online giants, who are launching a big push into the film business, have been a significant presence at the South Korean festival this year, popping up as buyers, sponsors and producers...

A Chinese Artist Confronts Environmental Disaster

Orville Schell
New Yorker
What were all these sick animals—lions, wolves, camels, monkeys, gazelles, pandas, and zebras—doing on this dilapidated Chinese fishing boat, sailing past the famous frieze of colonial banks, trading houses, and clubs that make up Shanghai’s Bund?

Hong Kong Celebrities Largely Mum on Protests Gripping City

Violet Law
Los Angeles Times
Hong Kong celebrities are known for their omnipresence and outspokenness, but the city's galaxy of stars and starlets has been almost entirely out of sight during the pro-democracy sit-ins. ...

Chow Yun-fat, Andy Lau Speak Up Against Use of Tear Gas on HK Protesters

Channel NewsAsia
Both famous actors spoke against the police use of tear gas, and urged that the safety of the student demonstrators should be a priority.

Culture

09.23.14

Contact Lenses

Vera Tollmann
Will we all become “Chinese?” International New York Times correspondent Didi Kirsten Tatlow ironically asked recently. The question plays both on our fears over China’s economic power and on reflections on the NSA files released by Edward Snowden...

Video

09.18.14

Collecting Insanity

Joshua Frank
Every country has a past it likes to celebrate and another it would rather forget. In China, where history still falls under the tight control of government-run museums and officially approved textbooks, the omissions appear especially stark. An...

Chinese Studio Huayi Brothers to Invest $130 Million in New U.S. Branch

Los Angeles Times
The leading Beijing based independent film production house didn’t say where its U.S. office might be or hint at the number of employees it expects to staff its operation. The plan still needs official Chinese approval.

China Detains Writer Tie Liu for ‘Provoking Trouble’

BBC
Chinese writer Huang Zerong, also known as Tie Liu, has been detained by police allegedly for writing articles critical of a senior official.

In China, a Search for Oscar Contenders

Edward Wong
New York Times
A film from mainland China has yet to win an Oscar, and Chinese officials are eager for the cultural validation that the award brings.

Culture

09.04.14

‘Transformers 4’ May Pander to China, But America Still Wins

Ying Zhu
Hollywood made news this summer with the China triumph of Transformers: Age of Extinction, which broke all previous Chinese box office records. The Chinese box office even outsold the North American box office. But jubilation over the film’s...

Culture

08.27.14

Standing Up for Indie Film in China

Jonathan Landreth
In July, Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth in the action-packed series of Hollywood films about trucks turning into giant robots to save the world, became the first film to sell more than $300 million in tickets at China’s box office...

Fabled Uighur Princess Coming to Chinese Television as a Cartoon

Edward Wong
New York Times
Animators in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen are creating a 104-episode cartoon series loosely based on a historical Qing Dynasty imperial consort, a Uighur woman who is shrouded in myth.

China’s Movie Industry: All That Glitters Isn’t Gold

Jeongwen Qiang and Chen Lin
Forbes
If we just looked at their success, on the surface, the Chinese film industry appears to be flourishing; but there is some cause for concern.

Culture

08.11.14

The Bard in Beijing

Sheila Melvin
At the end of a rollicking production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream—directed by Tim Robbins and staged in China in June by the Los Angeles-based Actors’ Gang—the director and actors returned to the stage for a dialogue with the...

China’s Alibaba Pictures Confirms Zhang Qiang as CEO

Patrick Frater
Variety
Zhang, whose appointment was unofficially announced by the media last month, makes the unusual switch from public sector to private. Since 2011 has been vice president of China Film Group, the state-owned enterprise that dominates film imports and...

The Most Popular Books in China, and Why

MICHELLE TANG
Ozy
Five of China’s best-sellers could give us some telling insights into the nation’s psyche.

Conversation

07.24.14

Alibaba: How Big a Deal Is It?

David Wolf & Duncan Clark
When Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba goes public some time after Labor Day it is expected be one the largest initial public offerings in history. This week, a story in The New York Times shed light on ties between Alibaba and the sons and grandsons...

China’s Wanda Plans to Buy ‘One or Two Large International Entertainment Companies’

Abid Rahman
Hollywood Reporter
Amid consolidation chatter in the U.S., the owner of exhibition giant AMC says it plans to become a “real” multinational company and “intensify” its investment in the entertainment sector globally.

21st Century Fox to Sell Its Stake in China’s Bona Film Group

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
Investment group Fosun raises its stake as Bona CEO Yu Dong buys the Fox stake, saying the move would not affect ongoing co-productions, including "Bride Wars."...

Culture

07.01.14

Inside the Mind of a Chinese Hacker

Emily Parker
In May, the U.S. announced the indictment of five Chinese hackers for breaking into the computers of U.S. companies. The men went by code names like UglyGorilla and KandyGoo. A recent report revealed that the hackers, who worked for Unit 61398 of...

‘Transformers’ Breaks Box-Office Records in China

Julie Makinen
Los Angeles Times
“Transformers: Age of Extinction” broke multiple box-office records in mainland China in its first weekend of release and appears to be en route to displacing “Avatar” as the top-grossing film ever on the mainland.