Resources on Early Chinese Cinema

Wang Renmei on Dianying huabao 1933

Below you can find a variety of viewings, readings, bibliographies, image galleries, and other resources related to early Chinese cinema history. This page, and the posts, will be updated regularly in coming weeks, so check back regularly to discover new materials, and be sure to subscribe to the Modern Chinese Cultural Studies YouTube channel for updates.


Screening China Through Film - China Institute opening event

2021/07/14: Seeing China Through Film – The Early Years

July 13, 2021

A conversation about “Laborer’s Love” (1922) and “The Great Road” (1934) with Weihong Bao, Richard Pena, and Christopher Rea

Ruan Lingyu and Wang Nairong 1935


April 28, 2021

Public events about Chinese cinema history

Zhou Xuan new film cover

Zhou Xuan 周璇

April 26, 2021

Zhou Xuan 周璇 was famed as a “golden voice” of the Chinese cinema and phonograph industries before her premature death

Spider in Cave of the Silken Web 1927

Special Effects

April 23, 2021

Special effects were common in early Chinese cinema, especially in comedies and martial arts (wuxia) films of the 1920s

City Scenes 1935 Wan bros cartoon

Animation and Cartoons 卡通與漫畫

April 22, 2021

Early Chinese cinema included both animated films and live-action films with animated and illustrated sequences

Chen Yanyan on Chin-Chin 1934-05

Chen Yanyan 陳燕燕

April 22, 2021

Chen Yanyan 陳燕燕 had long film career in Republican China, post-war Taiwan, and Hong Kong, lasting from the 1930s to the 1980s

Fei Mu portrait

Fei Mu 費穆

April 22, 2021

Fei Mu (Fey Mou) was a theater director and film director best known for his acclaimed film Spring in a Small Town (1948)

Jin Yan Dianying zazhi no 4

Jin Yan 金焰

April 22, 2021

Jin Yan, also known as Raymond King, was a Korea-born actor who starred in many silent films produced by Lianhua Studio

Sun Yu in UPS Pictorial 1935-01

Sun Yu 孫瑜

April 22, 2021

Sun Yu, an influential film director, made his name in the silent era as one of the most prolific and talented filmmakers of United Photoplay Services (Lianhua Studio)

Li Lili studio portrait

Li Lili 黎莉莉

April 22, 2021

Li Lili appeared as a physically robust, playful, and outgoing “sweet big sister” in many Lianhua films of the silent and sound eras.

Ruan Lingyu photo in New Women 1935

Ruan Lingyu 阮玲玉

March 8, 2021

Ruan Lingyu is one of the most iconic actors of China’s silent cinema age.

Dianying 1972 by Jay Leyda

Books in English on Early Chinese Cinema

February 15, 2021

A bibliography of books in English related to Chinese cinema of the late Qing and Republican periods, updated periodically.