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Film Studies: National Cinemas

This guide highlights selected resources for various national cinemas.

Introduction to Chinese cinema

Early cinema in China was dominated by foreign imports, especially from the US. An early US co-production, Nan fu nan qi/An Unfortunate Couple was made in Shanghai in 1913. That film’s director, Zhang Shichuan, also produced and directed the earliest locally produced film, Hei ji yuan hun/Wronged Ghosts in an Opium Den (1916) and the earliest surviving film, Zhi guo yuan/Romance of A Fruit Pedlar (1922). In parallel with similar developments in Hong Kong, by the 1930s, a number of film companies had become established in Shanghai, with Mingxing and Lianhua the largest. Films about city life and adaptations of Chinese traditional cultural forms such as the Beijing Opera were popular with audiences.

Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931 provoked a rise in Chinese nationalism and communist activism, and an influx of left-wing artists and intellectuals into the film industry ensured a pronounced political dimension in films of the 1930s; Chun can/Spring Silkworms (Cheng Bugao, 1933) and Dalu/The Big Road (Sun Yu, 1935), for example, combined the songs and comedy of popular genre films with comment on Japanese aggression and class struggle. The period from 1932 is widely regarded as a first golden age of Chinese cinema, with a robust film industry producing popular and political fare, and with Ruan Lingyu, ‘the Chinese Garbo’, a successful star. Malu tianshi/Street Angel (Yuan Mu-jih, 1937) and Shizi jietou/Crossroads (Shen Xiling, 1937) are considered classics of the period.   ...

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). China, film in. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 15 Aug. 2022

In the Library Collection

The diaspora of Chinese filmmaking is wide. You have the Peoples Republic of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Chinese filmmakers living in Thailand, the United States, Europe and elsewhere. Below are some of the subject headings to will help you narrow your searching.

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book titles

Finding journal articles

Articles and other writings about Chinese language films can be found in many publications. Our collection includes 2 journals which look exclusively at Chinese language cinema. You can use Film & Television Literature Index to find articles or use the search box at the top of the page.

Selected movie titles

Find more Chinese film titles in the library's online catalog.

Internet resource(s)

Keeping up with the journal literature

Want an easy way to keep up with the journal literature for a national or regional cinema? And you use a mobile device? You can install the BrowZine app and create a custom Bookshelf of your favorite journal titles. Then you will get the Table of Contents (ToCs) of your favorite journals automatically delivered to you when they become available. Once you have the ToC's you can download and read the articles you want.

You can get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Don't own or use a mobile device? You can still use BrowZine! It's now available in a web version. You can get to it here. The web version works the same way as the app version. Find the journals you like, create a custom Bookshelf, get ToCs and read the articles you want.