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Contemporary Sino-French Cinemas: Absent Fathers, Banned Books, and Red Balloons
296pp. December 2015
Contemporary Sino-French Cinemas: Absent Fathers, Banned Books, and Red Balloons
Author: Bloom, Michelle E.;
Transnational cinemas are eclipsing national cinemas in the contemporary world, and Sino-French films exemplify this phenomenon through the cinematic coupling of the Sinophone and the Francophone, linking France not just with the Chinese mainland but also with the rest of the Chinese-speaking world. Sinophone directors most often reach out to French cinema by referencing and adapting it. They set their films in Paris and metropolitan France, cast French actors, and sometimes use French dialogue, even when the directors themselves don't understand it. They tend to view France as mysterious, sexy, and sophisticated, just as the French see China and Taiwan as exotic.

As Michelle E. Bloom makes clear, many films move past a simplistic opposition between East and West and beyond Orientalist and Occidentalist cross-cultural interplay. Bloom focuses on films that have appeared since 2000 such as Tsai Ming-liang's What Time Is It There? , Hou Hsiao-hsien's Flight of the Red Balloon, and Dai Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. She views the work of these well-known directors through a Sino-French optic, applying the tropes of métissage (or biraciality), intertextuality, adaptation and remake, translation, and imitation to shed new light on their work. She also calls attention to important, lesser studied films: Taiwanese director Cheng Yu-chieh's Yang Yang, which depicts the up-and-coming Taiwanese star Sandrine Pinna as a mixed race beauty; and Emily Tang Xiaobai's debut film Conjugation, which contrasts Paris and post-Tiananmen Square Beijing, the one an incarnation of liberty, the other a place of entrapment. Bloom's insightful analysis also probes what such films reveal about their Taiwanese and Chinese creators.

Scholars have long studied Sino-French literature, but this inaugural full-length work on Sino-French cinema maps uncharted territory, offering a paradigm for understanding other cross-cultural interminglings and tools to study transnational cinema and world cinema. The Sino-French, rich and multifaceted, linguistically, culturally, and ethnically, constitutes an important part of film studies, Francophone studies, Sinophone studies and myriad other fields. This is a must-read for students, scholars, and lovers of film.

35 black & white illustrations
"Bloom explores the fascinating connection between Taiwanese, Chinese, and French cinemas and exposes the power relations behind them: the translation of different languages, social values, and medias is based on racial, cultural, and cinematic hybridity. Combining institutional history and film analysis, this elegantly written and engaging book contributes to our understanding of how physical locations can be identified with film and redefine what cinema is." —Yomi Braester, author of Painting the City Red: Chinese Cinema and the Urban Contract

“Limiting herself to auteur films and popular movies bearing a Sino-French connection, Michelle Bloom in fact registers the limitless relations subtending World Cinema as a whole. She mingles character and auteur analysis with specific production and reception histories in a recipe spiced with the innumerable borrowings and cross-cultural mimicry at work in ‘Chinese’ films that divulge or display a French flavor. Contemporary Sino-French Cinemas provides new tastes for the connoisseur and nourishment for cinema studies overall.” —Dudley Andrew, Yale University

“The book doesn’t stop at analysis of narratives: with a fine web of intertextual and cinematic references, Bloom shows how the hybrid character of these films comes from the complex interplay of intextual references, citations, homages, liberation from norms and reflections on the heritage of artistic fathers (the New Wave first and foremost).” —L’Espirit Createur
Author: Bloom, Michelle E.;
Michelle E. Bloom is associate professor of French and comparative literature and director of the Program in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Riverside.

Table of Contents


Introduction to Contemporary Sino-French Cinemas

PART ONE Franco-Taiwanese Cinema

The Sino-French as Métissage: Cheng Yu-chieh’s Yang Yang

Intertextuality as Métissage in Tsai Ming-liang’s Sino-French Films: What Time Is It There? and Face

Hou Hsiao- hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon as a Sino- FrenchMake over

PART TWO Franco-Chinese Cinema

Translations of Dai Sijie’s Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Imitating Frenchness in Emily Tang Xiaobai’s Conjugation and Jia Zhangke’s The World

Conclusions Mixing It Up: The Hybridity of the Sino-French