Memoirs from the Beijing Film Academy: The Genesis of China’s Fifth Generation

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Duke University Press, 2002 - Biography & Autobiography - 233 pages
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After graduating from the Beijing Film Academy in 1982, directors like Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou revolutionized Chinese cinema with Red Sorghum, Farewell My Concubine, Yellow Earth, Raise the Red Lantern, and other international successes. Memoirs from the Beijing Film Academy tells the riveting story of this class of 1982, China's famous "Fifth Generation" of filmmakers. It is the first insider's account of this renowned cohort to appear in English. Covering these directors' formative experiences during China's tumultuous Cultural Revolution and later at the Beijing Film Academy, Ni Zhen--who was both their screenwriter and teacher--provides unique insights into the origins of the Fifth Generation's creativity. Memoirs from the Beijing Film Academy illuminates the Fifth Generation in light of the social and political history of contemporary China. While it addresses the collective identity of the filmmakers, most of whom were born in the late forties or early fifties, it also examines how they view themselves and relate to one another. Ni Zhen has supplemented his personal knowledge of these directors with new interviews conducted for this volume. Intervening in current debates, he argues against mistaken "postcolonial" criticisms which allege that these filmmakers marketed an exotic image of China to Western audiences. He also demonstrates the diversity of the Fifth Generation, commenting on the breadth of styles and themes explored by its members, and introducing a range of male and female directors, cinematographers, and production designers famous in China but less well-known internationally. The book contains vivid descriptions of the production processes of two pioneering films--One and Eight and Yellow Earth. Memoirs from the Beijing Film Academy will be essential reading for international film enthusiasts as well as scholars of contemporary Chinese culture.
  

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Memoirs from the Beijing Film Academy: the genesis of China's fifth generation

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From 1980 to 2000, Ni Zhen taught art direction and film theory at the Beijing Film Academy, whose 1982 graduates included Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine) and Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern ... Read full review

Contents

Translators Introduction
vii
Preface to the English Edition
xiii
Admission
1
Notes to the Grindstone
51
First Steps
113
Graduation
147
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Ni Zhen is a consultant to the Shanghai Film & TV Company and Visiting Professor at the Shanghai Theater Academy. He was Professor of Art Direction and Professor of Film Theory at the Beijing Film Academy, where he taught from 1980 to 2000. He has written screenplays for films including Raise the Red Lantern and Blush.
Chris Berry is Associate Professor in the Program in Film Studies and the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

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