Understanding Chinese CinemaChinese cinema is a relatively new genre of cinema that has developed in response to the changing landscape of Hollywood film. In recent years, this film industry has diversified to include more traditional formats, which is a departure from the one-size-fits-all style of filmmaking that characterized Chinese cinema for years. However, the increased diversity does not necessarily translate into lesser quality films.
The internationalization of Chinese cinema has been facilitated by the increasing access to foreign markets through the Internet and other media. At the same time, films in Chinese have also received more attention and access in the West. The introduction of language subtitles to film prints helps facilitate the local market by providing subtitles that are comprehensible to people who speak Chinese as their native language. This in turn leads to greater exposure of foreign movies and thus better-produced films in Chinese.
Films have also been adapted from historical and literary materials. These adaptations, which have become increasingly popular in the last two decades, are often set within the context of China. Chinese language themes are common and the broad range of film genres from melodramas to romances has also made it possible for a greater number of films to be created and released. It is this evolution of Chinese film that makes it possible for a film industry to become increasingly internationalized.
The increasing trend of 'green' films that reflect the socialist aspects of the Communist Party in China is another reason for the internationalization of the film industry. Although some industry insiders fear that the shift may ultimately lead to fewer opportunities for Chinese filmmakers, it is a trend that has the potential to benefit both sides of the industry. Western film studios will increasingly need to offer Chinese film productions better financing options in order to fund ambitious projects.
While the widespread interest in films in Chinese has led to an increase in the production of the films, there is no doubt that this market is still saturated with a number of films that are not suitable for audiences outside of China. Chinese audiences may continue to see a large proportion of poorly made films that do not attract an audience outside of China. The rise of e-commerce in China and the fact that there are now many websites that cater to the film viewing public in China has also contributed to the internationalization of the Chinese film industry.
There are also a number of factors that may contribute to the internationalization of the Chinese film industry. The fall of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) caused a general loosening of the reins on the leadership of the Communist Party. During this period, Western films were more readily allowed into the country. Chinese films continued to struggle with censorship however, and many have survived despite accusations of being a propagandist or propaganda.
The fall of the Cultural Revolution was not the only factor that led to the increasing growth of the film industry in China. Media globalization has also played a role. Unlike in the past when Chinese movies were distributed in Hong Kong, the growth of the Internet and the development of international cable channels had encouraged Chinese film makers to become more self-reliant and diversify their regional audience. Satellite television, for example, has begun to broadcast a number of films and television shows that were previously aired on Beijing-based channels.
The growth of the Chinese film industry in the last few years may be a major contributor to the success of foreign film studios. With more options available to Chinese filmmakers, the industry has benefited from a more global appeal and increased access to foreign markets. With Chinese audiences are growing in number and prominence, Chinese film producers are now being given the opportunity to show foreign audiences the unique Chinese cinematic styles that have been part of the country's culture for centuries.