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5th Generation guide

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fori
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5th Generation guide

#1

Post by fori » November 6th, 2019, 3:55 am

5th Generation Films
I have spent a lot of time this year watching films by 5th Generation directors, and have now seen over 120 (depending on how you count it). I had said I would post my personal guide previously, but didn’t come through. Sorry, I’m too lazy :(
Here it is though, in incomplete form (I had planned to add more detailed summaries and have brief thoughts under every movie):

Basic background:
The 5th Generation was the group of new filmmakers who began studying film in the aftermath of the Cultural revolution. At its core was the Beijing Film Academy’s diverse group of 1982 graduates, but there are peripheral groups/individuals that are often also included. This group was responsible for drastically expanding the scope of mainland Chinese film, creating some of the most important works of world cinema, and laying the groundwork for the audacious 6th Generation & dGeneration films made in their wake. The core period of the movement is considered to end with the infamous events in Beijing of 1989. The group had a strong set of predispositions: within the core period there was a heavy focus on socialist realism based on the work of writers marginalised by the cultural revolution and narratives that were critical of the state, bureaucracy, prevalent conservative traditionalist attitudes. Many early works were war films, films for children, or absurdist satire, with much of the movement placing emphasis on rural narratives.

Be warned: the takes you'll see here will often go against consensus.

Core directors that I have seen 5 or more films from in rough order of first film released

Zhang Junzhao (1952-2018) Seen 5/?Show
Zhang was the first of the cohort to direct a studio feature, with all previous 5th Generation films being student productions. That film is “One and Eight”, a lauded war film with expressive cinematography by the great Zhang Yimou. The film set the stage for what was to come, but its battle against the censors likely led him to make his follow up a forgettable propaganda effort about the Chinese Women’s Olympic gold in volleyball in ‘84. This move to appease censors led to criticism from his peers for betraying the spirit of the socialist realism. These tumultuous beginnings ultimately limited his ability to make studio features, and when he died in 2018, he had not directed anything for the last 15+ years of his life.

Highly Recommended:
1. Shining Arc AKA ‘弧光’ (1989)
This is my favourite of all those listed here. There is so much going on here; critiques of society, class and tradition, denunciations of the hollow pretensions of bourgeois artists, nuanced exploration of mental illness and our failures to treat it, and much more. A more educated individual than me, could, with enough knowledge, context & research could probably write thick tome exploring just the subtext of this film. It also has an immaculate aesthetic, with cinematography that hits the perfect mood every time. This is elevated to perfection by sporadic bursts of brilliantly unconventional editing. Those moments are some of the greatest I have seen in film as a whole, and capture something indescribably special. Every time I think about this movie I like it more.
2. One And Eight AKA ‘一个和八’ (1983)
3. The Loner AKA ‘孤独的谋杀者’ (1986)
This movie paints an idiosyncratic portrait of Kung Fu warfare at the tail end of a failed 1850s revolution waged by neo-Christian cultists (with a sui generis electronic score that I cannot understate the greatness of). Really good.

Lightly Recommended:
- Three Daring Daughters AKA ‘花姊妹风流债’ (1992)

Not Recommended:
- Come on, China! AKA ‘加油——中国队!’ (1985)

Wu Ziniu (1952-) Seen 9/13Show
Though largely forgotten today, Wu Ziniu broke a lot of important ground in his day. He made 7 features in the 80s (the most of any director mentioned here), made the first 5th Gen film to get banned (an elusive high priority feature called ‘The Dove Tree’), and directed several important international co-productions with Taiwan, Japan & elsewhere. His films are most often war films, and he has a rare proficiency at invoking the tragedies of history. His output shrunk to 5 features during the 90s, and he has made little this century.

Highly Recommended:
1. Joyous Heroes AKA ‘欢乐英雄’ (1988)
This film brings a lot of disparate elements together in what seems like alchemy. It is a humanist drama following a large group of characters caught between the Kuomintang, the Communist party, and mountain bandits. At times verges on a Chinese western, at times more like if ‘Red Sorghum’ was a revenge movie.
2. Evening Bell AKA ‘晚钟’ (1988)
Regarded as the most important of Wu’s films, this movie follows a small group of Chinese soldiers returning home after Hirohito’s surrender as they find a platoon of Japanese soldiers who have descended into depravity. The broad brush strokes the movie paints with make it all the more potent.
3. Sun Mountain AKA ‘太阳山’ (1992)
This would be a fairly standard melodramatic inter-generational sob-story were it not for the palpable commentary of the still open-wound of the China-Taiwan relationship, and the agile aesthetic & tonal shifts that punctuate each chapter of the narrative. And Tao Zeru, his partnership with Wu Ziniu is one of the great actor-director collaborations, and he’s at his best here.
4. Sparkling Fox AKA ‘火狐’ (1994)
5. Don’t Cry, Nanking AKA ‘南京1937’ (1995)
6. The Living and the Dead AKA ‘阴阳界’ (1988)

Lightly Recommended:
- Secret Decree AKA ‘喋血黑谷’ (1984, with Li Jingmin)
- Hero Zheng Chenggong AKA ‘鄭成功’ (2001)

Watchable:
- The Candidate AKA ‘候补队员’ (1983, with Chen Lu)

Tian Zhuangzhuang (1952-) Seen 12/13Show
Tian Zhuangzhuang’s career has been heavily marred by a mix of commercial failure and censorship. Indeed a majority of his features have been bombs or faced a battle with censors (including straight up bans on the films themselves and his capacity to make them) or both. But that just speaks to the integrity of the greatest director on this guide. It is a testament to his genius that despite all these setbacks he has risen to international prominence. Childhood friend of Chen Kaige, so it was cool to see him appear in the Chen Kaige segment of ‘My People, My Country’ this year.

Highly Recommended:
1. The Warrior and the Wolf AKA ‘狼灾记’ (2009)
2. The Blue Kite AKA ‘蓝风筝’ (1993)
3. On The Hunting Ground AKA ‘猎场扎撒’ (1985)
4. The Horse Thief AKA ‘盗马贼’ (1986)
5. The Street Players AKA ‘鼓书艺人’ (1987)
6. The Go Master AKA ‘吴清源’ (2006)
7. Springtime in a Small Town AKA ‘小城之春’ (2002)
8. Delamu AKA ‘马古道:德拉姆’ (2004)
9. Li Lianying: Imperial Eunuch AKA ‘大太监李莲英’ (1991)
10. The Red Elephant AKA ‘红象’ (1982, student film co-directed with other BFA students)

Lightly Recommended:
- Unforgettable Life AKA ‘特别手术室’ (1989)

Not Recommended:
- Rock Kids AKA ‘摇滚青年’ (1988)
A film examining supposed cultural shifts through the lens of the most generic and poorly aging music of the 80s. I’m not sure what happened here, likely a project designed to make money, though purportedly a legitimate filmmaking endeavour. Every bit as painful and contrived as you might imagine.

Chen Kaige (1952-) Seen 15/15Show
Chen Kaige is controversial figure amongst fans of Chinese cinema. He is largely known for the overwhelming praise ‘Farewell My Concubine’ gets, and to a lesser extent, the credit for ‘Yellow Earth’ bringing international attention to the 5th Generation. However, the rest of his filmography is less intuitive to newcomers (with some exceptions). Chen is a filmmaker who has constantly evolved; the rural parables of his earliest work gave way to the indulgent post-Bertolucci epics of the 90s, followed by a series of misguided projects made during the height of his prominence, each seemingly designed to compensate for the failures of its predecessor (this stretch likely contributed to his mixed reputation), then this decade has seen a renaissance of adventurous commercial filmmaking that puts Hollywood to shame. Yes, his recent work is not the principled auteurial art cinema that critics no doubt want from him, but it is all the better for it.

Highly Recommended:
1. King of the Children AKA ‘孩子王’ (1987)
2. Caught in the Web AKA ‘搜索’ (2012)
3. Yellow Earth AKA ‘黃土地’ (1984)
4. The Big Parade AKA ‘大閱兵’ (1986)
Often misconstrued as a propaganda film, Chen has said this film is attempting to examine individual/collective dynamics at an abstract level, and the literal narrative is entirely facade. Also makes for a stunning visual experience, with Zhang Yimou’s cinematography at its absolute peak here.
5. Life on a String AKA ‘邊走邊唱’ (1991)
6. Farewell My Concubine AKA ‘霸王別姬’ (1993)
7. Legend of the Demon Cat AKA ‘妖猫传’ (2017)
The fact that this film isn’t celebrated by neo-elitist/revisionist/contrarian internet users everywhere is proof that vulgar auteurism is all posturing.
8. Temptress Moon AKA ‘風月’ (1996)

Lightly Recommended:
- Sacrifice AKA ‘趙氏孤兒’ (2010)
- Forever Enthralled AKA ‘梅兰芳’ (2008)
- Monk Comes Down the Mountain AKA ‘道士下山’ (2015)
- The Emperor and the Assassin AKA ‘荊柯刺秦王’ (1998)

Watchable:
- Together AKA ‘和你在一起’ (2002)

Not Recommended:
- The Promise AKA ‘無極’ (2005)

Avoid:
- Killing Me Softly (2002)

Huang Jianxin (1954-) Seen 11/15Show
Huang Jianxin is not from the class of 82, but rather a previous group who began studying towards the end of the Cultural Revolution. His early (and best) work leans towards thoughtful but chaotic comedy critical of bureaucracy, but the acerbic wit of those films gradually dulled into a run of passable comedies and dramas from the late 90s into the 2000s. After moving towards producing in the 2000s, his only further directorial efforts have been reserved for widely panned state funded propaganda films depicting the history of the Communist Party (the first two of which were co-directed by influential film producer Han Sanping). Despite this decline, Huang’s best work is more than enough to place him amongst the best and most accomplished of the movement.

Highly Recommended:
1. Dislocation AKA ‘错位’ (1986)
This quick-paced absurd comedy follows a company man who builds a robotic double of himself so he no longer has to attended corporate meetings. This is is augmented by a vision of a late capitalism mediocrity apocalypse complete with architecture satirising bourgeois fantasies of opulence, intimations of disastrous environmental catastrophe beyond city limits & occasional bursts of surreal techno-philosophy. The progression between ‘The Black Cannon Incident’ and this is somewhat like that of ‘Mad Max’ to ‘Mad Max 2’ in that everything unique and interesting about the first is honed and pushed further, and the filmmaking is so much more adept and assured. I think user “wasabi” on this forum nailed it: greatest Chinese sci-fi film.
2. Back to Back, Face to Face AKA ‘站直啰!别趴下’ (1994, with Yang Yazhou)
3. The Wooden Man’s Bride AKA ‘五魁’ (1994)
4. Samsara AKA ‘轮回’ (1988)
5. The Black Cannon Incident AKA ‘黑炮事件’ (1985)

Lightly Recommended:
- Xi’an’s Finest AKA ‘睡不着’ (2000, with Liu Huining)
- Gimme Kudos AKA ‘求求你表扬我’ (2005)

Watchable:
- The Marriage Certificate AKA ‘谁说我不在乎’ (2001)
I have direct experience with this and I still couldn't get into it :(

Not Recommended:
- The Founding of a Republic AKA ‘建国大业’ (2009, with Han Sanping)
Truth be told, I kind of enjoyed this. If you can stand formulaic propaganda, there are some things to appreciate here.

Avoid:
- The Founding of a Party’ AKA ‘建党伟业 (2011, with Han Sanping)
- Mao Zedong 1949 AKA ‘决胜时刻’ (2019, with Ning Haiqiang)

Zhang Jianya (1951-) Seen 9/?Show
The one of the eldest of the class of ‘82, Zhang Jianya is also the worst 5th Gen director I have seen enough to have a substantiated opinion on. I think Zhang’s career is best explained by what he says in an interview with Tony Rayns. In their conversation, which appears in the 1989 documentary ‘New Chinese Cinema’, Zhang argues that not every director can make expensive and likely uncommercial art films; there need to be commercial filmmakers to keep the business afloat. Zhang’s first film is not far from what Chen Kaige & others were doing around the time, but he let his standards slide in search of fleeting commercial success, and it quickly became a race to the bottom.

Highly Recommended
1. Trapped in a Frozen River AKA ‘冰河死亡线’ (1986)
This film reminds of that quote about ‘The Searchers’ that the landscape is almost a character, with its breathtaking setting of a semi frozen branch of the Yellow River bringing life to its natural thriller concept. Surprisingly features substantial commentary on the one child policy. Rudimentary filmmaking aside, this is a fantastic debut.
2. The Red Elephant AKA ‘红象’ (1982, student film co-directed with other BFA students)

Lightly Recommended:
- Sanmao Joins the Army AKA ‘三毛從軍記’ (1992)
- Kidnaping Karajan AKA ‘绑架卡拉扬’ (1988)

Watchable:
- The Tribulations of a Young Master AKA ‘少爷的磨难’ (1987, with Wu Yigong)
This is a mediocre and bombastic adaptation of a Jules Verne story. Something like the poor man’s Hong Kong screwball classic.

Not Recommeded:
- Qian Xuesen AKA ‘钱学森’ (2012)
Feels ripped straight from the pages of the Huang Jianxin 2010s playbook, but actually goes a lot better. A mustard seed of tangible sincerity can move mountains.
- Crash Landing AKA ‘紧急迫降’ (2000)

Avoid:
- ‘Call For Love’ AKA ‘爱情呼叫转移’ (2007)
Although I loathe this movie for both its vapid ideology and lack of filmic craft, I have to acknowledge that it was immensely prescient. Movies crafted in this image are making big money to this day.
- Fit Lover AKA ‘爱情呼叫转移Ⅱ:爱情左右’ (2008)
Even worse than the first and almost certainly the worst 5th Generation movie. A dismal indictment of everyone involved. Seems to be searching for a lower common denominator than I ever knew was possible.

Zhou Xiaowen (1954-) Seen 6/?Show
Zhou came from the same class of students as Huang Jianxin, and had an equally eccentric take on the 5th Gen formula (though in a radically different way). The adjective that I feel best applies to his oeuvre is ‘abrasive’. From his aggressively serious and confronting crime films of the 80s to his weirdo Hong Kong co-production to the brutal critique of capitalism in his most celebrated film Ermo, his work is often depressing and uncomfortable to watch.

Highly Recommended:
1. Ermo AKA ‘二嫫’ (1994)

Lightly Recommended:
- Obsession AKA ‘疯狂的代价’ (1989)
- Black Mountain AKA ‘黑山路’ (1994)
- The Emperor’s Shadow AKA ‘秦颂’ (1996)
- Desperation AKA ‘最后的疯狂’ (1987, with Shi Chengfeng)

Not Recommended:
- The Trail AKA ‘狭路英豪’ (1993, with Manfred Wong)

Zhang Yimou (1950-) Seen 23/23Show
Zhang Yimou likely needs no introduction here, most who read this will at least be somewhat familiar with his directing career. This will likely also make this a contentious part of this guide. Zhang graduated in ‘82 from the cinematography course, and only worked on 4 films in that capacity before turning to directing. Those 4 films have cinematography of such high caliber that it has taken entire careers spanning decades of cinematographer colleagues such as Gu Changwei and Zhao Fei to rival this small body of work. As a director Zhang achieved the greatest acclaim of any listed here, and his early films still constitute some of the most important work in Chinese cinema. However, his excruciating slide into mediocrity and worse dampens the enthusiasm many (myself included) have for his work.

Highly Recommend:
1. Ju Dou AKA ‘菊豆’ (1990, with Yang Fengliang)
2. To Live AKA ‘活着’ (1994)
3. Raise The Red Lantern AKA ‘大红灯笼高高挂’ (1991)
4. Not One Less AKA ‘一个都不能少’ (1999)
5. Red Sorghum AKA ‘红高粱’ (1987)
6. Shadow AKA ‘’ (2018)
7. Hero AKA ‘英雄’ (2002)
8. The Story of Qiu Ju AKA ‘秋菊打官司’ (1992)
9. A Soul Haunted By Painting AKA ‘画魂’ (1994, with Huang Shuqin)

Lightly Recommended:
- Shanghai Triad AKA ‘摇啊摇,摇到外婆桥’ (1995)
- Keep Cool AKA ‘有话好好说’ (1997)
- Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles AKA ‘千里走单骑’ (2005, with Yasuo Furuhata)
- The Road Home AKA ‘我的父亲母亲’ (1999)

Watchable:
- Happy Times AKA ‘幸福时光’ (2000)
- House of Flying Daggers AKA ‘十面埋伏’ (2004)

Not Recommended
- Under The Hawthorn Tree AKA ‘山楂树之恋’ (2010)
- Coming Home AKA ‘归来’ (2014)
- Curse of The Golden Flower AKA ‘满城尽带黄金甲’ (2006)
- Codename Cougar AKA ‘代号美洲豹’ (1989, with Yang Fengliang)
- A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop AKA ‘三枪拍案惊奇’ (2009)

Avoid:
- The Flowers of War AKA ‘金陵十三釵’ (2011)
- Lady Of The Dynasty AKA ‘王朝的女人·杨贵妃’ (2015, with Cheng Shiqing)
- The Great Wall (2016)

Li Shaohong (1955-) Seen 9/?Show
Though initially one of the last 5th Generation directors to make a feature, Li Shaohong is now recognised as one of the most important filmmakers from the movement, and mainland Chinese cinema more broadly. She has proved uniquely adept across a wide range of formats: she is accomplished in her feature work and her television work, she is fluent in celluloid and digital filmmaking, and she has made classics on both a shoestring budget and with more financing. Her output also spans a broad spectrum of genres & topics: horror both meditative and violent, epic romance, fast paced comedy, cerebral literary adaptation and low key family dramas, and these ventures are almost always great successes. In every project she brings a dynamic - or even explosive - aesthetic, and leaves an auteurial fingerprint that is difficult to put into words but impossible to miss once you do a deep enough dive. Worth also giving credit here to Zeng Nianping, her cinematographer in work and husband in life. Though he has almost exclusively worked with her (and vice versa) he deserves to be held in as high regard as Gu Changwei and Zhao Fei.

Highly Recommended:
1. Bloody Morning AKA ‘血色清晨’ (1990)
2. The Case of the Silver Snake AKA ‘银蛇谋杀案’ (1988)
3. Family Portrait AKA ‘四十不惑’ (1992)
4. Baober in Love AKA ‘恋爱中的宝贝’ (2004)
5. Blush AKA ‘红粉’ (1994)
This is Li Shaohong's entry into the wave of period epics the 5th Generation made in the 90s ('The Blue Kite', 'Farewell My Concubine', 'Raise The Red Lantern', 'The Wooden Man's Bride') and it is every bit as good as those other films. Gorgeously shot and rife with subtext and metaphor, this a good choice for getting into 5th Gen films beyond the most famous stuff
6. Stolen Life AKA ‘生死劫’ (2005)

Lightly Recommended:
- The Red Suit AKA ‘红西服’ (1997)
- The Door AKA ‘’ (2007)
- A City Called Macau AKA ‘妈阁是座城’ (2019)


Less watched core directors

Hu Mei (1958-) Seen 3/?Show
Hu Mei was initially thought of as the foremost among the women of the 5th Generation. Her early films were groundbreaking and controversial for their upfront portrayal of female sexuality and the mental toll of war. Sadly, her later work is tragically more divisive on the issue of its craft and competency. There is a lot left for me to explore here though, and I think there will be great films among them.

Highly Recommended:
1. Years Far From War AKA ‘远离战争的年代’ (1987)
2. Army Nurse AKA ‘女儿楼’ (1985)

Not Recommended:
- Confucius AKA ‘孔子’ (2010)

Liu Miaomiao (1962-) Seen 1/?Show
The youngest of the class of 82, Liu Miaomiao is most well known for being part of the Hui ethnic minority who largely reside in Ningxia province, and making several films about her culture, which otherwise receives virtually no representation in film. Unfortunately I have not seen those films, so I cannot give any substantive analysis of the merit of her oeuvre.

Watchable:
- The Boxer AKA ‘拳击手’ (1988)
This is a fairly cliche movie that is obviously trying to tap into nationalist fervour over growing but still small international sporting success at the time of release. Far less transparent and much more nuanced than 'Come On, China!' but the story outside the ring which consumes most of the runtime could easily be discarded as it is so generic that leaving it to the viewer's imagination would likely hit on something more meaningful. Also completely devoid of formal ambition.

Peng Xiaolian (1953-2019) Seen 3/11Show
Peng Xiaolian is known for conventional 5th Gen movies early in her career, followed a series of sentimental tributes to her adopted home city of Shanghai, and through the 2000s she did some reportedly great documentary work. Based on the small amount I have seen from her, she is the best director in this category.

Highly Recommended:
1. Red Persimmons AKA ‘満山紅柿’ (2001, with Shinsuke Ogawa)
2. Women’s Story AKA ‘女人的故事’ (1987)

Not Recommended:
- Me and My Classmates AKA ‘我和我的同学们’ (1985)

He Qun (1955-2016) Seen 1/?Show
He Qun was a member of the class of 82, but not the directors course. He was an art director, whose two collaborations with cinematographer Zhang Yimou (‘One and Eight’ & ‘The Big Parade’) feature terrific craft. He was subsequently able to transition to directing in his own right, starting with ‘Mutiny’, a theatrical production for television. His directorial efforts never attained wide fame or classic status, and He is largely forgotten within China today.

Watchable:
- Country Teachers AKA ‘凤凰琴’ (1993)

Xia Gang (1953-) Seen 1/10Show
Highly Recommend:
1. Half Flame, Half Brine AKA ‘一半是火焰,一半是海水’ (1989)



Peripheral figures

These are arguably not 5th Generation directors, but have noteworthy links to the movement, and I have decided to include them here. If anyone can point me to an authoritative source that has a better system than mine (directors class of ‘82 + related figures who directed a feature before the end of the movement in 1989) I would appreciate it.

Sun Zhou (1954-) Seen 5/?Show
Sun Zhou worked in television around the time of the 5th Generation break out in 84, and after formally studying production, he began directing features starting in the late 80s.

Lightly recommended:
- Breaking the Silence AKA ‘漂亮妈妈’ (2000)
- Zhou Yu’s Train AKA ‘周渔的火车’ (2002)

Not recommended:
- Impossible AKA ‘不可思异’ (2015)

Avoid:
- I Do AKA ‘我願意’ (2012)
- The Human Comedy AKA ‘人间·喜剧’ (2019)
This one fails to clear even the most basic hurdles, a complete non-starter in the race to be a passable movie. Like if one was to turn the worst elements of Chinese reality tv into a movie.

He Ping (1957-) Seen 6/8Show
Highly Recommended:
1. Sun Valley AKA ‘日光峡谷’ (1996)
2. Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker AKA ‘炮打双灯’ (1994)
3. Warriors of Heaven and Earth AKA ‘天地英雄’ (2003)
4. The Promised Land AKA ‘回到被爱的每一天’ (2015)
5. Wheat AKA ‘麦田’ (2009)
6. Swordsmen in Double Flag Town AKA ‘双旗镇刀客’ (1991)

Ning Ying (1959-) Seen 6/12Show
Upon graduating in the class of 82, Ning Ying went abroad for further study, leading to her working as assistant director on Bertolucci’s ‘The Last Emperor’, a film that heavily influenced the 5th Gen. Her work as a solo director begins in 1990 and is usually associated with the 6th Generation, and for good reason: her early films are thoughtful, low key comedies with a lot in common with films from Zhang Yang, He Jianjun and her brother-in-law Zhang Yuan. In this decade she has shifted towards low impact commercial filmmaking of a serendipitously more palatable kind than Zhang Jianya or Sun Zhou. Probably the most squandered potential of any director here, all her early work is full of the promise of masterpieces that don’t seem to have eventuated. There are some I haven’t seen that look promising though.

Lightly Recommended:
- For Fun AKA ‘找乐’ (1993)
- On The Beat AKA ‘民警故事’ (1995)
- Railroad of Hope AKA ‘希望之旅’ (2002)
- I Love Beijing AKA ‘夏日暖洋洋’ (2001)

Watchable:
- Kung Fu Man AKA ‘功夫侠’ (2012, with Yuen Cheung-Yan)
This goofy martial arts film is filled with questionable or embarrassing moments and there are probably some major critiques to make of its conceptual underpinnings, but I was able to sit through this with my brain in extreme low gear, chuckling occasionally. In what is likely a test run for ‘Man of Tai Chi’, this was produced by Keanu Reeves!
- Romance Out Of The Blue AKA ‘浪漫天降’ (2015)


Help me out!!!Show
There are many other associated filmmakers who do not make this list because I deemed they do not fit the narrow definition I am working with here. Some examples are cinematographers turned directors Lu Yue, Gu Changwei & Hou Yong, actors turned directors Yang Yazhou and Yang Fengliang, and French-Chinese author/director Dai Sijie. Should I include them?

If you found any errors in this, please reply with corrections. I’m not certain about the release dates for a lot of these, so if you have a correction of any of that, please link a reliable source for the date of initial release.

Is this guide useful? Should I complete it? Is there not enough context? Too much context? What would improve it? Please reply to this thread with feedback. Thanks.

Thoughts on these films, directors the movement etc?
Last edited by fori on November 8th, 2019, 8:56 am, edited 6 times in total.

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#2

Post by blocho » November 6th, 2019, 5:29 am

This may be "incomplete" but it's nevertheless immense and fascinating. I know almost nothing about Chinese cinema, but I thank you for this contribution to the forum. I and others can learn a lot from here about Chinese and fifth generation filmmakers.

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#3

Post by Mate_cosido » November 6th, 2019, 6:36 am

This is a great resource fori, chinese cinema is one of my favourite national cinemas, and i will use this guide next time i want to dive in, in it, hopefully soon! thanks for the effort!

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#4

Post by fori » November 6th, 2019, 7:31 am

Thanks guys, this took me at least 2 hours yesterday and more than an hour today to put together like this. I’m glad people find it interesting/useful. I’ll try to fill out the empty spaces one at a time now this is posted here.

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#5

Post by Obgeoff » November 6th, 2019, 8:40 am

Amazing work. Thank you.
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#6

Post by St. Gloede » November 6th, 2019, 9:08 am

Fantastic work, Fori, will definitely use this as a springboard for further viewings.

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#7

Post by Onderhond » November 6th, 2019, 9:42 am

I have Kaige Chen's King of the Children lined up since yesterday, funny coincidence. Not a big fan of his older work though, but we'll see :)

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fori
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#8

Post by fori » November 6th, 2019, 10:07 am

Onderhond wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 9:42 am
I have Kaige Chen's King of the Children lined up since yesterday, funny coincidence. Not a big fan of his older work though, but we'll see :)
You won’t like it! I predict a max score of 2/5.

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#9

Post by Onderhond » November 6th, 2019, 1:45 pm

Yeah, expectations are quite low, then again I've seen most of Chen's films by now, so I'll just power through. Yellow Earth is also missing still.

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#10

Post by hurluberlu » November 6th, 2019, 7:59 pm

Great stuff !

Maybe one addition among the less watched: Jiang Haiyang. He was a student of the Directing Class of the Academy in 1982 and shot a few films in the mid 80s but his filmography remains rather obscure. He is quoted with 10 other influentials directors of the 5th Generation in Reinventing China: A Generation And Its Films by Paul Clark.

Also for the peripheral figures, maybe worth to add Wu Tianming who was from the previous generation but said to be godfather of the 5th (as Head of Xi'ian studios) and a precursor with his 1986 film The Old Well.
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#11

Post by fori » November 6th, 2019, 9:07 pm

hurluberlu wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 7:59 pm
Great stuff !

Maybe one addition among the less watched: Jiang Haiyang. He was a student of the Directing Class of the Academy in 1982 and shot a few films in the mid 80s but his filmography remains rather obscure. He is quoted with 10 other influentials directors of the 5th Generation in Reinventing China: A Generation And Its Films by Paul Clark.

Also for the peripheral figures, maybe worth to add Wu Tianming who was from the previous generation but said to be godfather of the 5th (as Head of Xi'ian studios) and a precursor with his 1986 film The Old Well.
Hi Hurluberlu, thank for your help. I will look into Jiang Haiyang who I had not heard of (great find!). I am only including directors I have seen at least one film from here, so Jiang and others including Zhang Zeming and Xie Xiaojing (‘Red Elephant’ contribution aside) are not currently up for inclusion.
I was planning to have a paragraph on the history of Chinese film the got us to the 5th Gen, Wu Tianming’s palpable influence would be mentioned there, and the ‘Old Well’ might merit inclusion in talking about Zhang Yimou’s work as a cinematographer. I won’t dive into his broader filmography because one could easily make the case that Wu Yigong also merits inclusion then, as he was head of the bigger Shanghai Film Studio, a producer and mentor to several directors in the list, and to one-up Wu Tianming, he also co-directed with Zhang Jianya. The 4th Generation deserves its own guide I think.
I’m most interested in the book you reference here. I haven’t read a book solely dedicated to this topic and it seems like something I should prioritise. Would you say this book is helpful in expanding my knowledge about context, origins, history or missing figures from this list?

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#12

Post by RBG » November 6th, 2019, 9:50 pm

i really like ning ying. another woman director made one of my favorites https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5663040

she also stars in the film. it's 1981 but fits all the other criteria

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i also love 'ermo' :wub:
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#13

Post by fori » November 6th, 2019, 10:37 pm

RBG wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 9:50 pm
i really like ning ying. another woman director made one of my favorites https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5663040

she also stars in the film. it's 1981 but fits all the other criteria

Image

i also love 'ermo' :wub:
Thanks RBG. Yang Yanjin is a 4th Generation director, and I have seen the film, as well as ‘Troubled Laughter’ from 1979. You should look into Li Shaohong, the most acclaimed and best female director here. I can see you’ve seen ‘Blush’, but worth prioritizing ‘Bloody Morning’.
Edit: I was a bit surprised that you said Yang Yanjin was a woman, so I doubled checked, and I think that might be a mistake. Here are his entries on Douban and Baidu:
https://movie.douban.com/celebrity/1314718/
https://baike.baidu.com/item/杨延晋

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#14

Post by RBG » November 7th, 2019, 12:10 am

oh i forgot blush! loved it! will appear in my 500>400 list next year. thanks for the recommendation

yeah i got that info from imdb so you could well be right lol
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#15

Post by hurluberlu » November 7th, 2019, 7:37 pm

fori wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 9:07 pm
hurluberlu wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 7:59 pm
Great stuff !

Maybe one addition among the less watched: Jiang Haiyang. He was a student of the Directing Class of the Academy in 1982 and shot a few films in the mid 80s but his filmography remains rather obscure. He is quoted with 10 other influentials directors of the 5th Generation in Reinventing China: A Generation And Its Films by Paul Clark.

Also for the peripheral figures, maybe worth to add Wu Tianming who was from the previous generation but said to be godfather of the 5th (as Head of Xi'ian studios) and a precursor with his 1986 film The Old Well.
Hi Hurluberlu, thank for your help. I will look into Jiang Haiyang who I had not heard of (great find!). I am only including directors I have seen at least one film from here, so Jiang and others including Zhang Zeming and Xie Xiaojing (‘Red Elephant’ contribution aside) are not currently up for inclusion.
I was planning to have a paragraph on the history of Chinese film the got us to the 5th Gen, Wu Tianming’s palpable influence would be mentioned there, and the ‘Old Well’ might merit inclusion in talking about Zhang Yimou’s work as a cinematographer. I won’t dive into his broader filmography because one could easily make the case that Wu Yigong also merits inclusion then, as he was head of the bigger Shanghai Film Studio, a producer and mentor to several directors in the list, and to one-up Wu Tianming, he also co-directed with Zhang Jianya. The 4th Generation deserves its own guide I think.
I’m most interested in the book you reference here. I haven’t read a book solely dedicated to this topic and it seems like something I should prioritise. Would you say this book is helpful in expanding my knowledge about context, origins, history or missing figures from this list?
Fair enough !
About the book, it really focuses on the directors, their social and political background, their student and early years as filmmakers. It is based on first-hand info and quite a pleasant read. If you are interested to learn more on the sociological aspects of this generation, go for it; it is less on the films although there is a good selection commented in details.
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#16

Post by tommy_leazaq » November 8th, 2019, 6:29 am

Thanks for the great work, Fori.
This made me greedy for such guides for all other generations as well.. :D

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#17

Post by fori » November 8th, 2019, 7:50 am

tommy_leazaq wrote:
November 8th, 2019, 6:29 am
Thanks for the great work, Fori.
This made me greedy for such guides for all other generations as well.. :D
Thanks tommy_leazaq, I’d love to do those too, but I’m woefully uneducated when it comes to the other generations, at least by the standards I’d want out of a completed version of this one. There are more of this sort of thing for 6th Generation films though.

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#18

Post by cinephage » November 8th, 2019, 8:39 am

Thanks for this great work, fori, this is very interesting and helpful. I enjoy chinese cinema, but I am usually too dispersed to gather such a solid stack of information. This will greatly help me for future watches.

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#19

Post by clemmetarey » November 8th, 2019, 4:49 pm

A very informative guide fori, thanks :thumbsup:

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#20

Post by Lonewolf2003 » November 8th, 2019, 11:37 pm

Great work fori! Very interesting this guide. Like others I also will use this a guide when delving more into the 5th generation (probably during the next China challenge). I’m still mostly familiar with the most popular ones now, Kaige Chen and Yimou Zhang (of whom it surprises me that none of his acclaimed classics have had any decent blu ray release yet) and seen a few others.

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#21

Post by Onderhond » November 14th, 2019, 10:39 pm

fori wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 10:07 am
Onderhond wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 9:42 am
I have Kaige Chen's King of the Children lined up since yesterday, funny coincidence. Not a big fan of his older work though, but we'll see :)
You won’t like it! I predict a max score of 2/5.
Have to say this was pretty okay. Reminded me a little of Huo's Postman in the Mountains and Hiroki's Kikansha Sensei. Not quite as good as these films, the social critique felt a little dull, but a nice film nonetheless. Rated it 3/5

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