University to host Chinese movie series

The U partnered with the Walker Art Center to present the films.

Anissa Stocks

This month, the University of Minnesota and the Walker Art Center are marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the PeopleâÄôs Republic of China through a series called The PeopleâÄôs Republic of Cinema. The series is comprised of many rare films that track the decades following the 1949 Chinese Communist revolution. Its 14 films trace the evolution of “New China.” The films are playing every Monday and Wednesday through Nov. 24 at the Walker and the UniversityâÄôs Bell Museum Auditorium. The University is offering a one-credit course through the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures called “60 Years of China on Film: 1949-2009” in conjunction with the series. Wendi Chen, a professor of world literature at Minneapolis Technical and Community College calls the series a “valuable means toward intercultural relations.” “The series outlines an evolution from socialist China to a capitalist China through films that span political and social realms,” she said. Chen said the series charts the transformation of China throughout the years and looks to the future of the country. “Visual arts are more accessible to the public âĦ making this series an introduction to the complex and long history of China,” she said. “It helps expose audiences to Chinese culture through various lenses.” Sheryl Mousley, film curator at the Walker, said the series marks momentous change in China through narrative filmmaking. Mousley said the series chronologically places Chinese events and ideologies beginning in 1949 following the end of the Chinese Civil War. Films such as 1949âÄôs “Crows and Sparrows,” which was created just before the end of the Chinese Civil War and “Red Detachment of Women,” a 1961 film, expose bureaucratic corruption and cultural revolution. Asian Language and Literatures professor Jason McGrath, said the series depicts a China that many Americans havenâÄôt seen through HollywoodâÄôs portrayal of events such as the Cultural Revolution. “A priority was to show people visions of China from China âĦ the films capture the country more vividly,” McGrath said. Students enrolled in the class are given an opportunity to understand Asian literature and culture through the course taught by Ph.D. student Jessica Chan. Ellyn Dam, president of the Asian-American Student Union, said similar courses offer perspective to a controversial past of China. “I think that it would be a good thinking class,” she said. “Classes like that bring conversation and debate âĦ which is important in college.” Dam, who is not enrolled in the course, said the film series provides a history that is appealing to students. “People are interested in China for so many reasons âĦ whether someone is in business or an art lover,” Mousley said. “This is more than just having an interest in film.”