Chinese Film and Society

Project Director: Gary Xu, Associate Professor of Chinese Studies and Head Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures

Grant Program: Institute for School Teachers

Years: 20112013

From the project description on the Institute's website:

"Chinese Film and Society has a dual ambition: to make use of films to understand and interpret Chinese history, culture and contemporary society, and to understand the problematics of film as a medium for representing an entire nation. Because of this dual ambition, we will consider films in their specific contexts, while understanding the complex relationship which exists between film and society. In other words, we will use Chinese films to help us understand and teach about China on the one hand, and to understand the aesthetic and cinematic uniqueness of Chinese films on the other. If we treat Chinese film as an unquestioned direct representation of China without paying attention to the uniqueness of film as a medium of visual art, we will likely reinforce stereotypes and further create biases; if we treat Chinese film as an artistic expression only, we cannot see the historical and political implications behind seemingly innocuous images. [...]

"The artistically excellent films we have selected, whether from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or mainland China, are both mass entertainment and historical documents. In Chinese Film and Society, we use their compelling stories to address these questions: How do individuals, families, and societies experience historic change? Does a distinctive moral sense shape their films? Do Confucian family values make us happy or stifle us? Do tradition, culture, and political ideology create spiritual meaning or repress us? How do national politics — the drive for respect, revolution — shape our lives? What is a just society? And finally, how is globalization transforming our society and ourselves?"

More information here, including links to the Asian Educational Media Service database housed at Illinois.

The Past Five Years