Q&A: Chen Kaige on the Future of Chinese Film

China Real Time talks to Chen Kaige, the “Fifth Generation” director of Yellow Earth and Farewell My Concubine, about censorship, Hollywood, and his latest film, Sacrifice, which arrives in the US this month.

I’m not so sure [Sacrifice will] work for American audiences. So why did I pick this project? With the great progress China has made in the last three decades, we’re sort of proud of what we did, but there is another side.

Look at Beijing—I grew up here, but now I come here and am a stranger. I don’t want to identify myself as someone who is from Beijing and to me it’s a shame, really a shame. They give you a new Beijing and let the old one die. I totally disagree with this, because the soul of the city is gone with the physical stuff. We pay very little attention to what we respect and what we loved in the past with our culture.

So that’s why I want to pick up this project to tell people who we used to be in our past.

[…] I enjoy watching films like “Avatar,” because I believe it’s like a dream, a dream that will take you to another planet. But you can know from it the American spirit. So what’s the Chinese spirit? Why in the last decade has everything changed so much? Why do people feel like there’s a chance to have a new hope? What can we do to help people have a dream? That’s very important for us to say.

Click through for video highlights from the interview. Also at The Wall Street Journal, Laurie Burkitt reported on Thursday how China’s booming box office—whose takings have risen by 42% in the last year—is increasingly dominated by foreign films, despite restrictions on their distribution.


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