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China: Independent directors funded

With the news of Chinese broadcasting regulation body SARFT‘s decision to heavily invest in future films from sixteen of China's hottest young independent directors, one might jump to the conclusion that official regulators are just as tired of the same few big-name directors as many Chinese netizens are. LiLiang, for example, commenting at the Kaiju Shakedown blog:

“As for Zhang Yimou, Feng Xiaogang and Chen Kaige, the larger the budgets they get for making movies, the worse their directing gets. Maybe somebody should impose a US$64,267 budget LIMITATION on any scripts those three decide to direct in the next few years. This might just even up Chinese cinema all around.”

Or does the five hundred thousand RMB per film per director come at a price? Nominee Xu Jinglei, for example, the world's most linked-to blogger and director of the film version of a novel once banned in China. It does, according to an official press statement reposted on Bullog blogger Jajia's space [zh], which quotes a SARFT representative as saying that these independent directors’ resulting films will be encouraged to follow the theme of ‘Harmonious Society‘, as well as required to obtain prior permission from both SARFT and China's Central Propaganda Department.

Here's what most of Jajia's readers at independent blog aggregator Bullog had to say:


They Say:
Lu Xun took Soviet Rubles


It's Getting Dark:
360 million RMB was invested in Curse, enough to fund 720 movies. Not a tough choice to make.


Worrywart Cow:
Nothing escapes them, they're so heartless.


Wei Xiaobao:
Why the f*** don't they say the films need to win audience approval?


Northeast Wind Turns Southwest:
“The Party Representatives” are back again.


“But they need to gain approval from SARFT and the Central Propaganda Department”



F*** That:
“With the funding, other than giving subsidies of 500,000 RMB to directors with original and new scripts, policy support in marketing and distribution will also be given to the scripts.”
Taking this little of money to film according to a central theme, who are they fooling?


For the so-called good.


Luo Fenfen:
SARFT's going to ruin these directors.

[Eight people voted to support the above comment, a significantly higher number than all other comments received]


They're just a bunch of retards, what's there to ruin?


Channel 3:
“In light of several years of films with themes receiving nobody's acclaim, this director points out, the neglecting of such important ideals as ‘building a harmonious society’ and ‘the three represents’ is the source of the problem.”
What kind of logic is that?!
Why don't I understand?


It's over!
Money's not that simple to get.


Mass Grave Publishing House:
“…has already shown preliminary results…”
You call this a policy? If there are already preliminary results, then hand them over to the market. They ought to dig up those who need funding most!


Accepting other people's assistance! If they're going to “eat other people's rice”, then they should let those people speak.


There's that theme again!


“…this director points out, the neglecting of such important ideals as ‘building a harmonious society’ and ‘the three represents'[]…”
Nothing wrong with those.




Pops wants to be village chief.

将新舆论企图用金钱和权力扼杀在摇篮之中.这一招 ,狠!!

Five pages long:
Attempt to use money and power to kill new popular opinion while its still in the cradle? To resort to this, inhuman!


“In light of several years of films with themes receiving nobody's acclaim, this director points out, the neglecting of such important ideals as ‘building a harmonious society’ and ‘the three represents’ is the source of the problem. Domestic films must not simply seek large-scale investment and production, but work hard to raise political awareness and to increase the works’ political content, ideology and character.”
I guess that means no more movies like Crazy Stone. From now on they'll all be extolling Three Represents or Eight Honours and Eight Shames, or else they won't get funding.


Grandpa Li:
“But they need to gain approval from SARFT and the Central Propaganda Department”
Would that still then be called a movie?


Normal Person
Funding, can they not accept it?


Channel 3
Shit. Looks like Jajia's pulling our leg.
But I think Xinhua is being spoofed out of anger.
I don't think SARFT's funding can help artistic creations. If directors take this money, they'll essentially be castrated.
If SARFT actively drops off the money, will any directors dare refuse it? If they do, will their films have trouble getting past the censors?


The artists have been reined in.

X file
what a fucking shit director, why does nobody refuse?

X file
what a f***ing shit director, why does nobody refuse?


Luan Ma
Sure…if they shoot an ‘arranged’ movie and shoot it well, people will praise it all the same. Unfortunately, such a movie will only be ever cause disgust. Once again The State has taken people's money and created a pile of garbage.


Keep the funding. Just stop banning things all the time.
The whole world's watching, only China can't watch…


Deep Blue 213
“…work hard to raise political awareness and to increase the works’ political content, ideology and character…”
“But they need to gain approval from SARFT and the Central Propaganda Department.”
If you accept someone's help, you have to do what they say!
I agree with the above comment!


Luobi's Little Haohao
No funding and cries won't be recognized, will be shut down.
Take the funding and cries will be bought out, controlled.
It used to be that they weren't their own, but of the mouths of other people.


They just want to turn artists into revolutionaries, then turn revolutionaries into proselytizers.


Make a news sensation and end up being used to support an argument. Is there anything more inane than that? Speaking on hearsay, blowing things out of proportion, making it all seem like the Cultural Revolution.
Curse of the Capitalist Roaders……


The emperor offers booze, who dares not drink?


Little Tiantian
“Funding, can they not accept it?”
Sure, if they don't mind shining shoes til they die.


If they accept the funding, they'll be controlled and supervised.
So shameless, taking other people's talents for your own dowry.


Jiangdong Cool Man
Thank the Emperor for his kindess. Long live long live long long live live my Emperor.


“They say SARFT will appoint people to oversee script discussions and decide the subjects.”


Your Dick's Your Own, F*** Who You Want
I'd put up the money to fund the 16 directors: Lu Chuan, Wang Xiaoshuai, Xu Jinglei, Jia Zhangke, Ning Hao, Ning Cai, Wulan Tana, Zhang Yang, to leave the country, go overseas and shoot Chinese movies. No dog-c*** important ideology can influence an idealistic artist's creations and works. Any art that serves a political party isn't art. In other countries that's called election advertising, in China it's called trash.
Officials corrupt into the hundreds of millions don't even worry about repenting and being saved, so can five hundred thousand yuan alter an artist's pursuits? Can it buy a righteous person? Go to hell!


“They say SARFT will appoint people to oversee script discussions and decide the subjects. This funding plan is expected to become a sort of ongoing system, which will ensure annual investment in themed films.”
“But they need to gain approval from SARFT and the Central Propaganda Department.”
With this kind of funding, will they still be able to shoot good movies???!!!


  • hi john, nice work with tranlating, very creative explicatives in chinese…i wonder about the visual effect such word have on someone…

    but the real issue for me is the question fo the size and scale of china — perhaps there is a need to keep peope togethjer thru cinema…just think of the impact of civil strife in china…i just throw this out us devil’s advocate…

  • Mary

    Informative and great, but one would wish your great pieces to go deeper. I just read a great book: China and the new world order, by the highly provocative Chinese journalist george zhibin gu, which offers huge insights on current China and global affairs.

  • mahathir_fan

    that’s good for a change. not just new directors are good, but new actresses for a change. oh and new actors. sorry for the freudian slip. i guess that’s what I pay attention at.

  • @Jordan:
    Do you think I should have left the f-words (or c-words) as they were? Very civilized discussion, obviously. But the reason I think these bloggers are so angry and vitriolic is that most of those directors have put out some really good, really dogma-free movies over the past few years and are the representatives of the latest push of an independent streak in Chinese film. Widely-criticized movies put out by big-name OYG directors like Chen Kaige, Zhang Yimou and Feng Xiaogang over the past few years have only won the younger generation more support. Though all movies have had to be approved officially, now the younger generation has to film them with the theme and stance already decided for them, or else they won’t be approved.

    You’re right, this is a pretty stringy post. Can I blame the earthquake? Thanks for the book tip, will definitely look for it next time I go to Hong Kong.

    You’ve seen right through me! I do have a preference for indie and alternative voices, and I think they deserve an uncontrolled space in society to do their work. Sometimes I get tired and cranky and start writing off Chinese actors and directors as just voices for the state, although I know neither they or the system is that simple. One thing I’ve been trying to wrap my head around lately is that in China so many extremely talented people end up in strange (to me) places like police army, navy, and air force dancing, singing and acting troupes. I can see how only being able to find work in companies like those would put a definite limit on the types of performance you could do, and I do often judge them on what I see. But as performing arts students, they must have had different, much broader passions, no? I always use the movie Lan Yu as an example. As if having queer characters portrayed by (straight) mainstream actors wasn’t groundbreaking enough for China in 2001, including male nudity, it even dealt directly with what happened in Tia-na-nmen in June, 1989. I think the fact that a movie like this could be made in China is pretty telling, but I wonder if it could be made under these new conditions for movie funding and approval…

  • GiaGia

    “Channel 3
    Shit. Looks like Jajia’s pulling our leg.
    But I think Xinhua is being spoofed out of anger.

    Obviously the funding story was not real news. just fake news for fun/for expression of anger.

  • Catherine

    Hi,John.I am a Chinese student in Guangdong.I have learned your name and your story on a local newspaper and read some of your works online.
    I have met quiet a few foreigners before and found that most of them know nothing about China.Your work interseted me quite a lot
    and I also wanna do something to connect China with the world.I got 29 scores in the TOEFL writing(the full mark of writing is 30),so I think I can translate Chinese articles into English and write English comments.Can I do that?Also,could you please give me some directions about how to do that?

    Also, are you still in Guangzhou?If you are in Guangzhou this February, I hope I can visit you and have some conversation with you.Some of your views and ideas impressed me very much. Now I am working on some essays about Chinese politics and I wanna hear your ideas.I guess it’s a little rude and too straight -forward to write you such a letter, but that’s the only way I can get contact with you.SO,hope you forgive my rudeness.

  • GiaGia

    Ok, seriously, John talked to me and we discuss the news original source and found out that:
    1, it’s the fact that there existing a funding for the directors.
    2, The version on which John worked on for translation is not the original one, but a modified and re-edited one by a certain bloger. The whole meaning could be misleading. Probably the re-editer didn’t mean to mislead people, but just for fun or expression of his own idea, but it did misled some people, including those Chinese replied to the text,and unfortunately, my dear John. (Sorry, John, I should have told you earlier and more seriouslier)
    3, Even for Chinese, it’s not easy to distinguish, but I still hope John could come to explain about the difference between the original version and the re-edited one
    4. I said it’s a fake news. I think I used an inpropriate word. at least the fact of funding was true. in Chinese we call it “e gao”(恶搞)but I don’t know the exact translation in English of this word. For example, if you saw a picture of Monalisa with beard, that could be regarded as a “e gao”

  • Thanks to GiaGia’s careful eye, I now see that the Bullog post is a clever e’gao (parody) of the original news report. The directors are in fact being offered funding by SARFT, but the comments above are in response to Bullog writer Jajia’s carefully-written and creative re-interpretation of the news. It illustrates her/his belief that the broadcasting authority’s move to fund their future films will have a significant and long-term impact on the works the directors produce.

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