A Golden Age of Chinese Cinema, 1947–52
Bay Area cinephiles and individuals interested in the history of Chinese cinema now have an extraordinary treasure at their fingertips: the Paul Kendel Fonoroff Collection at the C. V. Starr East Asian Library at UC Berkeley. This recent acquisition represents the largest and most comprehensive Chinese film studies collection in North America, with more than seventy thousand periodicals, posters, photographs, and ephemeral objects.
In celebration of this remarkable resource for the University, a selection of posters from the Fonoroff Collection is on view at BAMPFA during the fall semester. We also showcase seven rare films imported from the China Film Archive that were produced during what has been called the “Second Golden Age” of Chinese cinema (following the industry’s first flowering in the 1930s), a fertile moment preceding the cultural and aesthetic changes that would come as a result of the Chinese Communist Revolution in October 1949. The filmmaking of this period was international in character, embracing diverse styles and genres (epics, melodramas, romances, psychological thrillers) and revealing the connection of Chinese film production of the time to trends in the West.
BAMPFA’s film series connects to an international film conference, Shadow History: Archive and Intermediality in Chinese Cinema (October 12–14), organized by UC Berkeley’s Center for Chinese Studies. We are delighted to welcome scholars, film archivists, and specialists in Chinese cinema, including film historian and collector Paul Fonoroff, who will present a keynote introduction to one of his favorites: the 1947 classic Long Live the Missus, a standout for its presentation of a strikingly modern China.
Susan Oxtoby, Senior Film Curator
Film series cocurated by Weihong Bao, associate professor of East Asian languages and culture and film studies at UC Berkeley; poster exhibit curated by Julia M. White, senior curator of Asian art at BAMPFA. We are grateful to director Sun Xianghui and Wenny Liu at the China Film Archive, Beijing, for their generous assistance with this series. Thanks also to the Center for Chinese Studies; Andrew F. Jones, professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Culture; and Peter Zhou, director and assistant university librarian, C. V. Starr East Asian Library, and the College of Letters and Science, UC Berkeley. The series is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Window to America
- Saturday, October 21 6:30 PM
Huang Zuolin, Shi Hui, Ye Ming
A New York City businessman hopes to market a suicidal window washer’s grief to the highest bidder in this acidic Korean War–era satire on American capitalism, played entirely by Chinese actors in whiteface.
- Saturday, October 14 8 PM
A war-veteran husband and his wife are slowly consumed with distrust in Xu Changlin’s fascinating hybrid of noir thriller and melodrama.
Introduction by Weihong Bao
Quest for a Long-Lost Husband
- Friday, October 13 7 PM
Hong Kong, 1950
A fascinating glimpse of the Chinese diaspora across southeast Asia, this Hong Kong production follows a wayward husband through Southern China and Thailand, and tracks the travails of the wife he leaves behind.
Introduction by Yingjin Zhang
Long Live the Missus
- Thursday, October 12 7 PM
One of China’s most revered writers, the renowned Eileen Chang (Lust, Caution), wrote the screenplay for this enchanting, eye-opening look at family dynamics, sexual politics, and fabulous fashions in a thoroughly modern China.
Introduction by Paul Fonoroff
- Saturday, October 7 7:30 PM
The great Chinese star Shi Hui stars as an energetic lawyer fighting for the good of his neighbors in this stirring, almost Capra-esque drama from Cao Yu, one of China’s most important twentieth-century playwrights.
The Life of Wuxun
- Sunday, October 1 2:30 PM
Notorious as the first film banned by Mao and the PRC, The Life of Wuxun tells the real-life story of a Qing dynasty–era peasant who devoted his life to free education for all.
Spring in a Small Town
- Saturday, September 30 8 PM
With a visual panache often compared to Ophuls, Antonioni, and Welles, Fei Mu’s 1948 gem possesses a melancholy beauty all its own. Voted the best Chinese film of all time in a Chinese critics’ poll.
Introduction by Andrew F. Jones