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Memoirs from the Beijing Film Academy: The Genesis of China’s Fifth Generation (Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society) Paperback – January 9, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

From 1980 to 2000, Ni Zhen taught art direction and film theory at the Beijing Film Academy, whose 1982 graduates included Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine) and Zhang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern). Drawing on anecdotes and interviews, the author assuredly charts the particular set of circumstances that led up to the international success of those and other members of the "Fifth Generation." Rather than focus on their body of work, Ni Zhen shows how those young men and their colleagues came out of the dark days of the Cultural Revolution and into the light of worldwide acclaim. Readers need not be familiar with Chinese film and film history; via the fascinating and often amusing tales of their youth and academy exploits, they will be engaged. An excellent introduction to the Fifth Generation (and, as far as this reviewer can discern, the first insider's view of the academy in English), this is highly recommended for larger public and academic libraries.
Rie Sheridan, Austin, TX
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

“Ni Zhen was himself one of the educators of the Fifth Generation, so he has been able to give a full and accurate account of what happened then on the basis of his own first-hand evidence. He also gives a detailed scholarly analysis of the origins of the Fifth Generation and the particular conditions that produced this art movement. Reading his book not only gave me intellectual pleasure, but also took me back to those unforgettable times.”—Chen Kaige, director of Farewell My Concubine and Yellow Earth


“Memoirs from the Beijing Film Academy: The Origins of China’s Fifth Generation Filmmakers brings back memories for me. It tells the true story of how I moved from ignorance to full maturity along with a group of my peers. Everyone faces challenges of some sort in their youth. They become life’s most beautiful memories. That means this is not just a book about film, but also a book about human life. Once youth is over it never returns, and so we treasure it in our hearts. Thank you, Professor Ni Zhen, for writing this inspiring book.”—Zhang Yimou, director of Raise the Red Lantern, Ju Dou, and Not One Less
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Product Details

  • Series: Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (January 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822329700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822329701
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,606,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By lily t. on February 27, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Professor Zhen Ni draws from his personal experience teaching the 5th Generation filmmakers at the Beijing Film Academy to write this marvelously insightful book. Not only does he analyze the early output of the 5th Generation, describing their process, but goes in depth detailing the curriculum offered at the academy, including the methods and training offered [ based on the Russian Model]
He also discusses the films and literature which influenced the 5th Generation- from the Chinese film Spring in a Small Town to the work of Bergman, Truffaut, Resnais-and Kafka, Garcia-Marquez, Faulkner, Camus etc. Additionally the directors and cinematographers mention their own favorites: 400 Blows, Ivan's Childhood, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Bicycle Thief, the films of Jasujiro Ozu [hmmm, I like their selections!].
He then discusses the respective childhoods of each off the main figures to emerge from the 5th Generation: Chen Kaige, Zhang Yimou and Tian Zhuangzhuang, as well as other lesser known directors, and the decisive events which shaped their vision- primarily the Cultural Revolution and the dreadful time most of them had as educated youths sent down to the countryside for reeducation-though he does draw the conclusion that their relationship to the land and to their cinematographic vision was formed then rather than in the urban overcrowded conditions most grew up in.
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Memoirs from the Beijing Film Academy: The Genesis of China’s Fifth Generation (Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society)
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