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Cinema, Space, and Polylocality in a Globalizing China

Cinema, Space, and Polylocality in a Globalizing China

Yingjin Zhang
Copyright Date: 2010
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  • Book Info
    Cinema, Space, and Polylocality in a Globalizing China
    Book Description:

    In this milestone work, prominent China film scholar Yingjin Zhang proposes "polylocality" as a new conceptual framework for investigating the shifting spaces of contemporary Chinese cinema in the age of globalization. Questioning the national cinema paradigm, Zhang calls for comparative studies of underdeveloped areas beyond the imperative of transnationalism.

    The book begins by addressing theories and practices related to space, place, and polylocality in contemporary China before focusing on the space of scholarship and urging scholars to move beyond the current paradigm and explore transnational and comparative film studies. This is followed by a chapter that concentrates on the space of production and surveys the changing landscape of postsocialist filmmaking and the transformation of China's urban generation of directors. Next is an examination of the space of polylocality and the cinematic mappings of Beijing and a persistent "reel" contact with polylocality in hinterland China. In the fifth chapter Zhang explores the space of subjectivity in independent film and video and contextualizes experiments by young directors with various documentary styles. Chapter 6 calls attention to the space of performance and addresses issues of media and mediation by way of two kinds of playing: the first with documentary as troubling information, the second with piracy as creative intervention. The concluding chapter offers an overview of Chinese cinema in the new century and provides production and reception statistics.

    Combining inspired critical insights, original observations, and new information,Cinema, Space, and Polylocality in a Globalizing Chinais a significant work on current Chinese film and a must-read for film scholars and anyone seriously interested in cinema more generally or contemporary Chinese culture.

    34 illus.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-3770-9
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Introduction: Cinema, Space, Polylocality
    (pp. 1-15)

    Three key concepts of space reflect a significant recent development in human geography and social theory. The first is the concept ofspace as product, according to which space is seen as produced by social, political, and economic forces rather than as a natural given; an analogous concept is Henri Lefebvre’s “production of space,” which occurs at different scales, from the globe to the body, from cosmos to hearth.² The second key concept is that ofspace as process, according to which space is conceived as multiple, coeval, and relational; as such, space inevitably engages other terms such as place...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Space of Scholarship: Trans/National and Comparative Studies
    (pp. 16-41)

    More than any other scale discussed in Chapter 1, the scale of the national used to occupy the central attention in film studies, and the resulting myth of a unified national cinema in a given nation-state had tended to hide things from us and is therefore in need of demystification. Since the late 1980s scholars have become more aware that the national-cinema paradigm does not adequately respond to contemporary issues in film studies and film practices. Even the concept of “national cinema” itself has proven to be far from unproblematic, and critics have advocated a shift from national cinema to...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Space of Production: Postsocialist Filmmaking
    (pp. 42-72)

    This chapter moves our attention from the space of scholarship (Chapter 2) to the space of postsocialist filmmaking in China, which has produced an amazing array of what Lefebvre posits as “representational spaces,” defined as instances of “that concrete (practical and social) space-time wherein symbolisms hold sway, where works of art are created, and where buildings, palaces and temples are built.”² An outstanding recent symbol of concrete space-time isguangchang(square, plaza), which Dai Jinhua evokes through a catchy phrase, “from square to market,” so as to visualize a kind of “invisible writing” that has fundamentally transformed mass culture in...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Space of Polylocality: Remapping the City
    (pp. 73-102)

    To understand what Foucault envisions as the “network that connects points and intersects with its own skein” or the simultaneity of multiple spatialities (see Chapter 1) that structures our experience of the world in the present epoch—requires an ongoing effort of cognitive mapping or remapping of spaces, places, and localities around us. This chapter begins with an argument that remapping has become a sheer necessity nowadays in any metropolitan Chinese city, not the least because hasty, large-scale urban development since the early 1990s has demolished much of the old cityscape and replaced it with nondescript high-rise buildings and commercial...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Space of Subjectivity: Independent Documentary
    (pp. 103-137)

    Marginality constitutes a set of new tactics that permit independent Chinese filmmakers to open up new spaces for tackling social issues, exploring individual subjectivities, and envisioning different futures. Since the early 1990s, independent film- and videomaking has quickly developed as a new player in Chinese cultural production—a player who is enthusiastically welcomed at international film festivals overseas but who has been systematically ignored and occasionally banned by Chinese state censorship.² In contrast to the regular Western press coverage over the past decade, relatively little English scholarship focused on Chinese independent filmmakers before 2006, and much less on their insistent...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Space of Performance: Media and Mediation
    (pp. 138-169)

    From its initial emphasis on personal visions and individual subjectivity to its recent turn toward audience, amateurism, and activism, Chinese independent filmmaking seems to have traveled a full cycle and now confronts the political once again. But political engagement in contemporary China still entails certain risks, and no matter how marginal or unofficial they intend their activities to be, independent filmmakers and exhibitors have never escaped the surveillance of China’s dominant power. The arrest of Hu Jia, an outspoken independent documentarist and AIDS activist, and the compulsory relocation of the third Yunfest from Kunming to Dali in 2007 are just...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Conclusion: Progress, Problems, Prospects
    (pp. 170-186)

    This concluding chapter brings my investigation of cinema, space, and polylocality in a globalizing China up to date by offering an overview of the latest progress of Chinese cinema in the twenty-first century. Among what Massey calls “a simultaneity of stories-so-far,” I pay equal attention to the spaces of production and of exhibition and their cultural logic of translocality so as to provide a context for evaluating new trends in the commercial and independent sectors, such as blockbuster coproductions and the two-way traffic between underground and aboveground production of art films. Although independent filmmaking has gradually attracted scholarly attention in...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 187-218)
  13. Filmography, Videography
    (pp. 219-230)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 231-250)
  15. Index
    (pp. 251-258)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 259-261)