The Critics Choose Their Oscar Nominees

NYT
New York Times
Two of three New York Times film critics would nominate “Touch of Sin” for Best Picture and Jia Zhangke for Best Director in this year’s Oscars. 

Gay Love Theory as Fans Relish Sherlock in China

BBC
"Curly Fu" and "Peanut" are the names given by Chinese fans to Sherlock and his sidekick, Dr Watson, men who many Chinese fans like to think of as being in love...

Q. & A.: David Der-wei Wang on C.T. Hsia, Chinese Literary Critic

Didi Kirsten Tatlow
New York Times
C.T. Hsia, the Chinese literary critic who died in New York on Dec. 29, aged 92, had a “legendary career” as “a true cosmopolitan, shrewd, critical and brilliant,” says David Der-wei Wang, Professor of Chinese Literature at Harvard University, in an...

Media

01.03.14

Coming to Chinese Headlines in 2014

Chinese people have spent another year breathing dirty air, fretting about food safety, poking fun at corrupt officials, and complaining about tightening censorship—but as a discerning consumer of international news, you probably knew that already...

China of My Mind

Virginia Pye
New York Times
When I tell people that I have recently published a novel set in China, one of the first questions they ask is whether I’ve been there. My response seems to be a letdown.

Books

12.30.13

Every Rock a Universe

Jonathan Chaves (Translator)
The Yellow Mountains (Huangshan) of China’s Anhui Province have been famous for centuries as a place of scenic beauty and inspiration, and remain a hugely popular tourist destination today. A “golden age” of Yellow Mountains travel came in the seventeenth century, when they became a refuge for loyalists protesting the new Qing Dynasty, among them poet and artist Wang Hongdu (1646–1721/1722), who dedicated himself to traveling to each and every peak and site and recording his impressions. Unfortunately, his resulting masterpiece of Chinese travel writing was not printed until 1775 and has since remained obscure and available only in Chinese. Here Jonathan Chaves presents the first complete translation of Wang’s work in a Western language. Wang’s newly rediscovered verse is also translated, showing him to be one of the most accomplished poets of his day. Introductory essays explore the history of scholarly and religious pilgrimage to the area, and the role of the Yellow Mountains in the great Neo-Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoist revivals of the early Qing period, that is, as the center of a yearned-for spiritual and cultural renaissance.—Floating World Editions{chop}

How Andy Warhol Explains China’s Attitudes Toward Mao

Julian Gewirtz
Atlantic
The sheer number of Warhol’s screen prints of Mao’s face—at once persistent and reinvented—that captures, with unusual clarity, the attitude of China’s leaders today toward Mao, coloring and recoloring this legacy within an enduring outline.&...

Sinica Podcast

12.27.13

Sinica Goes to the Movies

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
As much as expats in China like to complain about the state of Chinese film and television, this week Kaiser and Jeremy remind us that there is a lot of great art out there, too, in a show that asks the critical question of: what is worth our...

Other

12.26.13

2013 Year in Review

As the year draws to a close, we want to take a moment to look back at some of the stories ChinaFile published in 2013. We hope you’ll find something that interests you to read—or watch—over the holidays.It’s hard to remember a recent year that didn...

Culture

12.19.13

Chinese Literature Online

Michel Hockx
In July of last year, Brixton, U.K.-based novelist Zelda Rhiando won the inaugural Kidwell-e Ebook Award. The award was billed as “the world’s first international e-book award.” It may have been the first time that e-writers in English from all over...

Landmark Exhibition of Chinese Contemporary Art Opens at Metropolitan Museum of Art

Craig Clunas
Art Daily
A major loan exhibition of contemporary Chinese art presenting works by 35 artists born in China is now on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, including 70 works in various media from the past three decades, from artists such as Xu Bing, Zhang...

Sinica Podcast

12.13.13

From the Underground to the Internet—Contemporary Art in China

Jeremy Goldkorn, Philip Tinari & more from Sinica Podcast
In the late 1990s, the visual arts in China operated on the fringes of society, and those who dared to flirt with public prominence risked finding themselves on the disapproving end of a government clampdown. And yet how different things seem today...

Media

11.27.13

China’s Favorite Villainess

Many U.S. viewers identify with serial killer Morgan Dexter of Dexter, inveterate womanizer Don Draper of Mad Men, or family man turned meth kingpin Walter White of Breaking Bad—however morally bankrupt they may be. Now, China has its own anti-hero...

Culture

11.22.13

A Homecoming

Sun Yunfan & Shen Wei
Shot in big cities and small towns across China in recent years, Shen Wei’s photographic project “Chinese Sentiment” is a personal journey to recapture bygone Chinese life in both private and public space. Born and raised in Shanghai, Shen Wei...

Excerpts

11.22.13

Shen Wei’s ‘Chinese Sentiment’

Peter Hessler
When Shen Wei was growing up in Shanghai during the nineteen-eighties and nineties, his mother worked as a fashion designer who specialized in calendars. If a company wanted to publish one, they hired Shen Wei’s mother, and she designed clothes for...

Culture

11.19.13

Why You Should Read Pearl Buck’s ‘New’ Novel

Sheila Melvin
When I first heard that The Eternal Wonder, a new novel by Pearl Buck, was scheduled for publication by Open Road Media on October 22 of this year, I assumed the announcement was either a mistake or a joke.Buck, of course, is the author of The Good...

Hong Kong’s Gilded Cage Unfolds in ‘Bends’

David Walter
Wall Street Journal
 Flora Lau’s new movie began, as all her film projects do, with the director grabbing a handheld camera and wandering the streets of Hong Kong for inspiration.

Unhinged in China

Ian Johnson
New York Review of Books
“A Touch of Sin” is made up of four interlocking stories that are meant to encompass the geographic sweep of China, and what director Jia Zhangke sees as the epidemic of violence and amorality in modern Chinese life. 

The Challenges of Conveying Absurd Reality: An Interview with Yu Hua

Megan Shank
Los Angeles Review of Books
Thus, Los Angeles Review of Books Asia Co-editor Megan Shank and Yu exchanged Chinese-language e-mails about history’s most over- and underrated Chinese writers, the evolution of an ancient language and why Yu will never read&...

Video

11.05.13

Small Part, Big Screen

Gilles Sabrié
Every morning outside the imposing gate of the Beijing Film Studio, a throng gathers to try to find a way inside. These aren’t fans, exactly. Look at their faces, the practiced way they crane their necks or square their shoulders when the man with...

Culture

11.01.13

The Sound of China’s Future

Jonathan Campbell
It’s high noon in March and the cluttered patio of Maria’s Taco Xpress, the Austin, Texas institution, is gloriously sunny. First time visitor Gan Baishui is moments away from his band’s American debut, but the composer and musician from a fourth-...

Sinica Podcast

10.29.13

Chinese Literature in Translation

Jeremy Goldkorn, Linda Jaivin & more from Sinica Podcast
This week, Sinica is delighted to be joined by Linda Jaivin and Alice Liu for a discussion on Chinese literature in translation. As many listeners will know, Linda is a long-standing force in the Chinese literary community and the author of many...

Hollywood Must Think Bigger About China

China Daily
In the period from January to June, domestic films in China outperformed imported ones by 65 percent. That was a major reversal from the same period last year, when proceeds from imported films almost doubled those of domestic productions. 

To Live and Die in Ordos

Derek Elley
Film Business Asia
This film is a character study of a socially responsible cop in a get-rich-quick modern bordertown whose life conveniently sums up the social and ethical tensions through which the whole country has been going during the past decade or so. 

Line by Line, the Artist Luo Ying Alters Chinese Tradition

Didi Kristen Tatlow
New York Times
Luo upturns centuries of tradition and offers a daring rethink of the meaning of traditional Chinese painting which has struggled for the past century with how to re-invent itself amid a haunting sense of being out of step with the modern world...

Unhinged in China

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In one of the central scenes in Jia Zhangke’s new film, a young man working in the southern Chinese manufacturing city of Dongguan goes to an ATM and finds that he’s broke. He’s just spent the past month betraying his friends and hopping from job to...

China: “Capitulate or Things Will Get Worse”

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
The massacre of protesters in Beijing on June 4, 1989, and the harsh repression during the months immediately following put China into a foul mood. Among ordinary Chinese, the prestige of the Communist Party, whose leaders had ordered the brutal...

China Box Office Worth $5 Billion to Film Studios by 2017

Jessica Reif Cohen
Variety
BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research estimates the Chinese box office could yield $5 billion in value potential for Hollywood studios by 2017 including imported and local productions (with this figure potentially doubling under further relaxed...

Propaganda Artists From North Korea Paint a Rose-Tinted China

Oliver Wainwright
Guardian
Thrusting China's contemporary icons into the aesthetic landscape of early Communist propaganda provides a striking image of quite how far the country has come since Deng Xiaoping began his policy of Reform and Opening in 1978. ...

A Novel About A Dystopian Future China Wins the Chinese Nebula Awards

Charlie Jane Anders
Gawker
‘The Waste Tide’ by Chen Qiufan is the winner of the Best Novel category in this year's China's Xingyun (Nebula) Awards. It’s hard to imagine the novel, which paints a pessimistic, dark view of a corrupt near-future China...

A Muzzled Chinese Artwork, Absent but Speaking Volumes

Jane Perlez
New York Times
Exiled sculptor Wang Keping’s controversial piece “Silence” — a wooden head with a plug stuffing its gaping mouth — has not been allowed in China since it was shown in 1979 and 1980, but the artist is now showing newer art in Beijing.&...

Media

10.18.13

Cross-Culture Fail Watch: “Blacklist” Bungles One-Child Policy

Chinese Internet users have a message for the screenwriters of The Blacklist: You’ve got a lot to learn about our country.The third episode of The Blacklist, a new NBC television drama in which the FBI and a former fugitive team up to fight...

Viewpoint

10.16.13

Innovation in Britain and What it Means for China

Vincent Ni
On the occasion of a high-level British delegation’s visit to Beiing this week, Vincent Ni, the long-time New York-based U.S. correspondent for the independent Caixin Media group, shared his views about China’s ability to innovate relative to what...

Back to 1942 Represents China at Oscars

Kevin Ma
Film Business Asia
China has chosen Feng Xiaogang’s Back to 1942 as its representative at the Academy Awards. The choice was revealed on the Academy’s full list of submissions for the Best Foreign Film award.  

‘A Touch of Sin,’ Four Tales from China by Jia Zhangke

Manohla Dargis
New York Times
A blistering fictionalized tale straight out of China, “A Touch of Sin” is at once monumental and human scale. A story of lives rocked by violence, it has the urgency of a screaming headline but one inscribed with emotional weight...

Love of Sun

Reuters
“Love of Sun” is an invitation to join an exploratory conversation that investigates systems of influence between two world leaders in contemporary culture: California and China.  

Will Wanda Buy Its Way Into Hollywood?

Patrick Frater
Variety
Chinese companies have an unfortunate habit of announcing deals before they are signed, or even agreed on, but Wang’s past dealings and current success give him the credibility that some other wannabe film moguls do not have. 

Zhang Huan’s Colorful Skull Paintings at the Pace Gallery

Barbara Pollack
New York Times
“Unlike Western masters, who will stick with one style their entire life until they reach maturity, I am in a constant state of transformation,” said Mr. Zhang, whose new oil paintings, which modeled after Tibetan masks, are a stark departure from...

China’s Wanda Unveils $8.2 Billion Movie Fund

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
Wanda’s huge investment plan is an attempt to turn China’s movie industry into the world’s biggest within 5 years, and includes the Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis which contains a 10,000-square-meter film studio, 19 smaller facilities...

Media

10.02.13

ChinaFile Presents: Jia Zhangke on “A Touch of Sin”

On September 30 at Asia Society in New York City, film director and screenwriter Jia Zhangke and his wife, muse, and frequent leading lady on screen, actress Zhao Tao, joined Asia Society’s Film Curator La Frances Hui and journalist Emily Parker to...

In China, Rural Elderly Are Being Left Behind (Slideshow)

Qilai Shen
Washington Post
Tens of millions older Chinese are struggling with poverty and loneliness as their children flee villages for cities. Decades of societal turmoil — radical communism followed by rampant capitalism — have frayed the ties that once bound the nation’s...

Media

09.30.13

China Watches “Breaking Bad”

Why do millions of Chinese care about a fictitious New Mexico meth cook? The soon-to-be-concluded television drama series Breaking Bad, which depicts embattled high school chemistry teacher Walter White’s transformation into a crystal...

U.S.-China Film Summit Set to Expand

Patrick Frater
Variety
A step up from last year’s edition, the conference will expand to become an all-day seminar series on November 5, 2013 and will relocate to the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. Li Bingbing and Chris Dodd will receive their awards at a gala dinner.&...

Christopher Dodd, Li Bingbing to Be Honored at U.S.-China Film Summit

Patrick Brzeski
Hollywood Reporter
As Hollywood and the booming Chinese film business have worked with increasing urgency to forge deeper ties and more mutual understanding over recent years, the Asia Society’s annual summit has emerged as a noteworthy networking occasion on the...

Conversation

09.27.13

Can China’s Leading Indie Film Director Cross Over in America?

Jonathan Landreth, Michael Berry & more
Jonathan Landreth:Chinese writer and director Jia Zhangke’s A Touch of Sin won the prize for the best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Though the dialogue and its fine translation and English subtitles by Tony Rayns are exemplary, I...

China’s Dalian Wanda Group Gives $20 Million to Academy Museum

Rebecca Ford
Hollywood Reporter
The gift, the second-largest commitment received to date, was made as part of the Academy Museum’s $300 million campaign. The Academy will name the museum’s film history gallery The Wanda Gallery. 

Media

09.25.13

The Silk Road of Pop

Nick Holdstock
Most coverage of Xinjiang focuses on the tensions between Han and Uighur in the region, especially since the 2009 Urumqi riots. The Silk Road of Pop, a new documentary about Uighur music directed by Sameer Farooq, is a timely portrait of the rich...

Filmmaker Giving Voice to Acts of Rage in Today’s China

Edward Wong
New York Times
When Sina Weibo made filmmaker Jia Zhangke aware of just how many ordinary Chinese were being provoked by power-abusing members of society to commit acts of bloodshed, he decided to adapt his martial arts film to reflect the issues of the...

Is China Outgrowing Hollywood Film, TV Industry?

Patrick Frater
Variety
While Western media loves to trumpet its successes in China, with the strong showing of Hollywood blockbusters, it’s clear that China audiences aren’t just sitting and waiting for the next Hollywood blockbuster. 

Conversation

09.24.13

A Shark Called Wanda—Will Hollywood Swallow the Chinese Dream Whole?

Stanley Rosen, Jonathan Landreth & more
Stanley Rosen:Wang Jianlin, who personally doesn’t know much about film, made a splash when he purchased America’s No. 2 movie theater chain AMC at a price many thought far too high for what he was getting.  A number of knowledgeable people...

A Yang Fudong Retrospective at the Berkeley Art Museum

Blake Gopnik
New York Times
Yang Fudong is known for using the illogic of European art film (think of Antonioni, Resnais or the later Fellini) to talk about how China’s traditions clash with its modern realities. The retrospective runs through December 8. ...

The Beijing Independent Film Festival Survives

Lydia Wu
dGenerate Films
Although the cancellation of the opening screening on day one resulted in a weak turnout over the remaining days of the festival, it definitely relieved the tension from the authorities, which helped all the screenings, discussions and forums run...

The Death of Independent Cinema in China

Caijing
After wrangling with the authorities all day August 25, on what was supposed to be the opening of the festival on the rural outskirts of Beijing, this year’s Beijing Independent Film Festival has been cancelled. 

Police Break Up Beijing Independent Film Festival

Natalie Ornell
China Digital Times
Directors, jury and invited guests who had come from as far as Sweden were told the 10th Beijing Independent Film Festival were threatened with power cuts and the arrest of Wang Hongwei if they persisted in holding the festival. 

China: When the Cats Rule

Ian Johnson
New York Review of Books
On one level Lao She’s novel is a work of science fiction—a visit to a country of cat-like people on Mars—that lampoons 1930s China. On a deeper level, the prophetic work predicts the terror and violence of the early Communist era’s chaos and...

‘The Grandmaster,’ Wong Kar-wai’s New Film

Manohla Dargis
New York Times
When Ip Man slyly asks “What’s your style?” it’s clear that director Wong Kar-wai is asking the same question because here, as in his other films, style isn’t reducible to ravishing surfaces; it’s an expression of meaning.  

Model Gives Glimpse of Old Beijing

Jin Haixing
China Daily
A model on a sand table, made 64 years ago, replicating the city's landscape in 1949, will provide a bird's eye view after it is fully restored later in September. The model, in the Beijing Urban Construction Archives Museum,...

A Path to the World for Chinese Directors

Andrew Jacobs
New York Times
CNEX, a nonprofit, has unique connections in the Chinese Communist Party which help insulate budding documentarians from undue interference so they can film and release films on a broader array of issues. 

Wong Kar-wai on His New Film, ‘The Grandmaster’

Nicolas Rapold
New York Times
It may seem like a departure for the director of lush mood pieces like “In the Mood For Love” and “Chungking Express.” But “The Grandmaster” isn’t Mr. Wong’s first martial arts film nor does it dispense with his obsession with romantic...

Struggling Immigrant Artist Tied to $80 Million New York Fraud

Sarah Maslin Nir, Patricia Cohen and...
New York Times
Pei-Shen Qian, a quiet 73-year-old immigrant from China, is suspected of having fooled the art world by creating dozens of works that were modeled after America’s Modernist masters and later sold as their handiwork for more than $80 million.&...