You will find exciting action cinema here, and soaring melodramas, musicals more flamboyant than Hollywood, and masterpieces of psychology and social realism. Most of all, you will find China itself here, its dreams, hopes and fears. We passionately believe that one of the best ways of getting to know a place is to look at its movies – its entertainments and its art films. There’s no better time to get to know China than now, when it is beginning to play an enhanced role in the world . . .

The wonderful films described here, and coming to a cinema near you, derive from there. Since we want to tell you the overall story of Chinese film in this festival, not just a part of it, we cover no less than eight decades. We start in bustling Shanghai in the 1930s, with Goddess, a masterpiece for which we have commissioned a brand new musical score. Its star Ruan Lingyu was a great but tragic figure, now almost forgotten. We want to help restore her reputation. One of the best actresses of our own period, Maggie Cheung, played Ruan in Centre Stage. We launch Cinema China with a screening of this film, with Maggie Cheung in attendance.

Then, with China on the Brink of Change, we look at Mainland Movies of the 40s - Fei Mu’s Spring in a Small Town, another masterpiece, and the fast moving social comedy Crows and Sparrows. From here we travel to the 60s, to Hong Kong and Taiwan, discovering one of the world’s most famous films, The Love Eterne, the action classic The One-Armed Swordsman, and some of cinema’s finest works of poetic realism. Next we Focus on Zhang Yimou’s Career and the breakthrough directors of the Fifth Generation. And we celebrate the work of our partners The Beijing Film Academy, one of the world’s great film schools. We are particularly pleased to introduce to British audiences The Movies of Xie Fei, one of its professors. Many of these movies will tour Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland, but there’s more to Cinema China than just showing movies. Our instigators, the University of Edinburgh, will provide fascinating contextual Lectures on Chinese film, society, history, and ideas. See the movies (or rent the DVD) then hear the lectures live or on our website. Also in Cinema China Education is a brilliant learning package for kids as well as masterclasses by Xie Fei and Maggie Cheung.

Our aim from the start has been to pay tribute to the greatest film directors who have worked in the Chinese language. Despite being buffeted by history and politics, they used the medium innovatively, and portrayed themselves and their country in their work. Often their protagonists were woman, so we have on purpose chosen many films about women. Our unbridled enthusiasm for these innovative films and great actresses is tinged with rage that many are not better known. Together with our partners The University of Edinburgh, Confucius Institute, Edinburgh Filmhouse, Scottish Screen, The Scottish Executive, The Beijing Film Academy and The Edinburgh International Film Festival, we hope that they become so and that you indeed find a world of cinema here, and a nation and great people too.

Mark Cousins and Dorota Ostrowska
Co-Artistic Directors



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