Why Chinese cinema is on the rise


Chuxiao Qu in The Wandering Earth (2019)Chuxiao Qu in The Wandering Earth (2019)

Janet Yang

GUEST: Janet Yang, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning producer / Governor at large for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

If you’re an explorer of good films around the world, China may be a destination to consider.

In the last ten years, China has grown to become the second largest film market in the world. In 2019, the country took in nearly $9 billion at the box office – that’s more than the next six markets combined.

And while big movies from Western studios – like The Fast and Furious, and Marvel’s Spider-Man – have historically taken advantage of the market’s meteoric growth – more and more, Chinese filmmakers are proving they don’t need any help in creating the next big blockbuster.

With us to talk about the rise of China’s movie industry is Janet Yang. She’s a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning producer with deep roots in China. Her film and TV credits include: The Joy Luck Club, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Shanghai Calling and High Crimes. She joined us via Skype from San Francisco.

Films mentioned in the podcast (from IMDB)

Yellow EarthYellow Earth (1984) 
Director: Kaige Chen
‘Yellow Earth’ focuses on the story of a communist soldier who is sent to the countryside to collect folk songs for the Communist Revolution. There he stays with a peasant family and learns that the happy songs he was sent to collect do not exist; the songs he finds are about hardship and suffering. He returns to the army, but promises to come back for the young girl, Cuiqiao, who has been spell-bound by his talk of the freedom women have under communist rule and who wants to join the Communist Army.

Ne Zha (2019) 
Director: Yu Yang
Born with unique powers, a boy is recruited to fight demons and save the community that fears him.

Better Days (2019) 
Director: Derek Tsang
A bullied teenage girl forms an unlikely friendship with a mysterious young man who protects her from her assailants, all while she copes with the pressures of her final examinations.

The Wandering Earth (2019) 
Director: Frant Gwo
As the sun is dying out, people all around the world build giant planet thrusters to move Earth out of its orbit and sail Earth to a new star system. Yet the 2500-year journey comes with unexpected dangers, and in order to save humanity, a group of young people in this age of a wandering Earth fight hard for the survival of humankind.

My People, My Country (2019) 
Directors: Kaige Chen, Hu Guan
An anthology film consist of 7 short stories directed by several different directors, which are based on 7 moments since the founding of People’s Republic of China.

The Farewell (2019)
Director: Lulu Wang
A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding to gather before she dies.

Ash is Purest White (2018) 
Director: Zhangke Jia
A story of violent love within a time frame spanning from 2001 to 2017.

Dying to Survive (2018) 
Director: Muye Wen
A story on how a small drug store owner became the exclusive selling agent of a cheap Indian generic drug against Chronic Granulocytic Leukemia in China.

Wolf Warrior 2 (2017) 
Director: Jing Wu
China’s deadliest special forces operative settles into a quiet life on the sea. When sadistic mercenaries begin targeting nearby civilians, he must leave his newfound peace behind and return to his duties as a soldier and protector.

The Mermaid (2016) 
Director: Stephen Chow
Shan, a mermaid, is sent to assassinate Xuan, a developer who threatens the ecosystem of her race, but ends up falling in love with him instead.

Lost in Thailand (2012) 
Director: Zheng Xu
On a wild road trip, three men find inner peace in the city that never sleeps.

House of Flying Daggers (2004) 
Director: Yimou Zhang
A romantic police captain breaks a beautiful member of a rebel group out of prison to help her rejoin her fellows, but things are not what they seem.

Hero (2002) 
Director: Yimou Zhang
A defense officer, Nameless, was summoned by the King of Qin regarding his success in terminating three warriors.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) 
Director: Ang Lee
A young Chinese warrior steals a sword from a famed swordsman and then escapes into a world of romantic adventure with a mysterious man in the frontier of the nation.