Chinese film gift includes more than 650 titles
A collection of Chinese language films and DVDs, among the largest in North America, was recently given to the University.
University President Harris Pastides and Dr. Yu Youxue of Beijing Language and Culture University announced the gift to the University Libraries’ Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC) Oct. 24 in Thomas Cooper Library. Dean Dafeng Zhong of The Chinese National Film Archive and the Beijing Film Academy was on hand to speak.
The collection, which includes more than 650 individual titles on 35 mm and 16 mm film and 1,500 DVDs of films from 1949 to the present, will enhance the University’s international film holdings and teaching of Chinese culture and language, says MIRC director Dr. Mark Cooper.
President Pastides said the film collection will be a valuable tool in educating university students and furthering their understanding of China, its film industry, language, culture, and political history.
“Half a century ago, China was closed to the rest of the world,” Pastides said. “Now it is a global, economic power, a destination for international tourists, and a hot spot for scholars and students. These films tell the story of this transformation.”
The DVDs were donated by the Hanban, the international headquarters of the Confucius Institute, in cooperation with the Chinese National Film Archive and the Beijing Film Academy. The 35 mm and 16 mm films were donated by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington, D.C. All were the result of the efforts of the University’s Confucius Institute, which was established last fall, the College of Arts and Sciences, and MIRC.
Dr. Tan Ye, director of the Confucius Institute, says the gift of The Chinese Film Collection demonstrates a continued commitment to making the University’s CI one of the nation’s premiere sites for research related to Chinese culture.
“This Chinese Film Collection is one of our most important undertakings since the establishment of our CI last November,” Ye said. “It would not have been possible without the strong support from the Chinese National Film Archive and the hardworking team from the University’s library system and the College of Arts and Sciences.”
Cooper says the films from the embassy collection are particularly valuable as they document cultural diplomacy, representing what officials of the People’s Republic wanted U.S. citizens to see and know about China after formal diplomatic relations were established in 1979.
“This bridge-building donation not only brings to South Carolina key films from the People’s Republic but also, as a collection, helps us to understand how China has imagined a U.S. audience for its films,” Cooper says.
Films in the embassy collection include documentaries of life in China, animated films, and fiction films. Among the notable fiction films are Cai Chusheng and Zheng Junli’s film “The Spring River Flows East” (1947), which depicts a family’s struggles during the Second Sino-Japanese War; Zie Jin’s “Two Stage Sisters” (1964), described by film scholar Gina Marchetti as “particularly important to an understanding of Chinese film culture as well as socialist cinema aesthetics in general;” and Zifeng Ling’s “Rickshaw Boy,” an internationally acclaimed 1982 film.
Documentary titles include films about the visit of the Chinese Table Tennis Team to the United States in 1972; China’s wildlife; and important natural and historic sites in China, including the Yangtze River headwaters and the Great Wall.
The Chinese Film Collection joins prominent international film holdings at the University. MIRC is known throughout the world for its Fox Movietone News Collection, which captures 20th-century culture and history through newsreel footage from 1919–1944. MIRC staff have begun to inventory the new collection and expect to complete it by fall 2010.