上海日报:Local groups promote high cinema culture
发布日期: 2015-10-08 作者: 浏览次数: 86
来源:上海日报 2015年9月11日 整版报道
标题:Local groups promote high cinema culture



Jacques Richard gives a speech on Henri Langlois’s works.
Sun Qi, Zhang Ke and Zhong Zhiyuan are three young friends bound together by an uncommon interest in today’s China: classic European cinema.

This interest, they say, first sprang from the impassioned lectures of Wang Fang, an associate professor and director of the Institute of World Film at Shanghai Normal University (SHNU). Zhong, now in his 20s, says he attended one of Professor Wang’s lectures by chance and found them surprisingly engrossing.

“I started from zero and gradually learned more about Western culture after much research,” he says.

Zhong and his friends — along with academics like Wang — are among a small but growing local community of cinephiles who are working to bring classic, foreign and independent films to a wider Chinese audience.

Indeed, Wang has already won recognition for her work promoting French film in China through screenings, public lectures and seminars, many of which have been organized in conjunction with the Consulate General of France in Shanghai and the French Cultural Center. Last year, she was named a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, one of the highest cultural awards bestowed by the French government.

Since being drawn into the world of foreign films, Zhong and other like-minded movie fans have organized societies and screening groups of their own, including FilmatSHNU, a club based the Institute of World Film, SHNU.

Such groups are forming at a time when China’s film market is booming thanks to rising income levels and an explosion in theater construction. Last year, local theaters pulled in a record 29.6 billion yuan (US$4.65 billion), making China’s film market the second largest in the world after the US. Over recent years though, many critics have grumbled about the popularity of low-brow blockbusters among Chinese filmgoers.

According to Zhao Yi, an instructor at the Institute of World Film, many Chinese have little knowledge of art-house or world cinema, and see such films as part of a minor genre. This is not the case outside of China though, where independent and experimental films are held in high esteem for their artistic merits. Zhao believes Chinese attitudes could change though if viewers had easier access to a more diverse range of films.

“Popularity is what supports development,” he explains. “It is true that the public will always like Hollywood blockbusters more than indie movies. But film societies have a responsibility to make sure that other genres are being shown to the public.”

Sun expressed a similar view, saying that members of FilmatSHNU believe it is important to nurture diverse tastes among local viewers.

“Among the public, there is a stereotype that literary movies are boring,” he says. “However, a remarkable art film can linger in your mind for many years ... and a moving story can touch the world.”

FilmatSHNU usually organizes several film events and screening each month. Films from acclaimed French directors Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard are frequently exhibited by the society, as are lessor known Chinese movies that audiences might have no opportunity to see elsewhere.

Several young members of this group are also active in SH 7eme Art, a French film workshop initiated in 2010. Its main goal is to present a series of retrospective French film screenings and exchange projects in China throughout the year.

Several notable French filmmakers, including Agnes Varda, Agnes Jaoui and Claire Denis, have already shared their expertise and knowledge with local movie makers at master classes organized through the workshop.

But despite their enthusiasm, admirers of foreign art-house fare acknowledge that such movies face an uphill battle when it comes to connecting with mainstream audiences.

“During the Shanghai International Film Festival, one can see many accomplished works. But they don’t draw enough of a local audience to turn a profit,” explains Zhao. “So movie companies rarely invest in such projects here at home.”

Zhao hopes the government can provide more financial support for art-house theaters and directors.

Meanwhile, Zhang Ke, another FilmatSHNU member, says filmmakers should also accept responsibility to advance cinema as an art form.

“Commercial films are like products rather than works of art,” says Zhang. “They can entertain people, but they can’t inspire. The movie market is packed with bad movies, which will only lead to negative development of the industry.”

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