In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Chinese Cinema

  • Introduction
  • Anthologies
  • Textbooks
  • Reference Works
  • Filmographies
  • Journals
  • Nation and Nationalism
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Industry and Market
  • Urban Cinema
  • Film and Other Arts
  • Film and Other Media

Cinema and Media Studies Chinese Cinema
Yingjin Zhang
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 October 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0016


Chinese cinema in this bibliography covers Chinese-language cinema, including films in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Taiwanese (or Minnan dialect) as well as Sinophone productions by the Chinese diasporas. To save space, hereafter “China” refers to mainland China, also known as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 1949. Chinese cinema has become an important player in world cinema since the 1980s for several reasons. First, three new-wave film movements emerged in three geopolitical territories during the 1980s: the Hong Kong New Wave, Taiwan New Cinema, and China’s Fifth Generation. Second, leading international film festivals have regularly awarded top prizes to Chinese cinema since the 1980s, and some Chinese films have entered art-house theaters in the West. Third, academic interests in Chinese studies and film studies have increased in recent decades as new theories and methodologies have gradually transformed disciplinary scholarship. Nonetheless, the development of Chinese cinema does not follow a straight line of progress; rather, it has seen ups and downs and unexpected turns. From the early 1990s to the late 1990s, a previously vibrant Taiwan film industry quickly disappeared in the face of Hollywood advancement. Also during the 1990s, Hong Kong cinema lost much of its market share in Taiwan, and its annual feature productions dropped from 242 in 1993 to 143 in 1994; the average number has stayed around fifty in 2006–2009. By contrast, feature productions in China increased from 88 per year in 2001 to 526 in 2010. What is most impressive is the growth of China’s exhibition market. Its annual total box office revenues skyrocketed from RMB 840 million in 2001 to RMB 10,200 million in 2010. Much of this growth has come from Chinese blockbuster films, almost always involving coproductions with Hong Kong. The spectacular growth of Chinese cinema explains recent attention to research in Industry and Market, but other exciting areas of Chinese film studies include film history (especially China before 1949), Gender and Sexuality, and Genre and Types. Martial arts films are considered a significant Chinese contribution to world cinema, and recent independent productions of Documentary films in China have received multidisciplinary attention. As scholars and filmmakers extend their vision beyond national borders, a new area has emerged in Diaspora, Sinophone, Transregional, which further complicates the question of Nation and Nationalism in Chinese cinema.


Books listed in this section often cover all three geopolitical territories—China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. For works outside these areas, see the subsection Diaspora, Sinophone, Transregional. Most anthologies make good textbooks for upper-division undergraduate and graduate classes, for they often include thematic clusters such as poetics, politics, identity, gender, and nation. Anthologies on Hong Kong and Taiwan are listed in separate subsections under History and Geography. In this section, Center for Documentation 1982 is one of the earliest books on Chinese cinema in a Western language. Berry 1991 and Browne, et al. 1994 represent the emergent phase of Chinese film studies in the West, while Lu and Yeh 2005 as well as Zhu and Rosen 2010 include the latest developments. Luo 2003 is perhaps the most comprehensive volume of Chinese film theory and criticism and has no English rival as yet.

  • Berry, Chris, ed. Perspectives on Chinese Cinema. 2d ed. London: British Film Institute, 1991.

    This pioneering work helped establish the academic status of Chinese cinema in Euro-America. While not as coherent as subsequent anthologies, it champions a cross-interdisciplinary approach and broaches various subjects.

  • Browne, Nick, Paul G. Pickowicz, Vivian Sobchak, and Esther Yau, eds. New Chinese Cinemas: Forms, Identities, Politics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

    An important early anthology with wide coverage of contemporary China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan by leading scholars (e.g., Fredric Jameson) on issues of melodrama, postsocialism, and postmodernism.

  • Center for Documentation, Paris, ed. Ombres électriques: Panorama du cinéma chinois, 1925–1982. Paris: Centre de Documentation sur le Cinéma Chinois (CDCC), 1982.

    One of the earliest books on Chinese cinema in Europe, this French anthology presents sixty film synopses and five essays on early Chinese cinema, film politics, and realism.

  • Lu, Sheldon H., and Emilie Yueh-Yu Yeh, eds. Chinese-Language Film: Historiography, Poetics, Politics. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005.

    Another important comprehensive anthology offering insights into China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, again focusing on contemporary films, with an introduction foregrounding the issues of language and dialects. Previously published as a double issue on Chinese cinema in the journal Post Script (20.2–3 ([2001]).

  • Luo, Yijun, ed. 20 Shiji Zhongguo dianying lilun wenxuan. 2 vols. Beijing: Zhongguo Dianying Chubanshe, 2003.

    An authoritative Chinese anthology of key texts of film theory and criticism in Chinese arranged in chronological order.

  • Zhu, Ying, and Stanley Rosen, eds. Art, Politics, and Commerce in Chinese Cinema. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2010.

    An anthology celebrating the centennial of Chinese cinema, with a focus on the film industry and market (e.g., Hollywood impact, piracy). Also includes articles on animation, adaptation, documentary, and martial arts films.

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