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Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart (2015) and the China Dream, or, How Chinese Art Cinema Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Chinese Soft Power

Chapter in book
Authors Elena Pollacchi
Published in Screening China's Soft Power, Paola Voci, Luo Hui (eds)
Pages 212-228
ISBN 978-1-138-66989-5
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Pages 212-228
Language en
Keywords Motion pictures China History and criticism , Television programs China History and criticism , Film , Tv-program , Massmedia , Feature films , Motion pictures , Mass media , Television programs , Kina
Subject categories Cultural Studies, Studies on Film


Taking Jia Zhangke’s Mountains May Depart as the case in focus, this chapter examines a segment of Chinese screen culture which has managed to circulate in domestic theatres without conforming to the normative state narrative epitomized by Xi Jinping’s catchphrase China Dream. A close reading of Jia Zhangke’s works and references to Diao Yinan’s Black Coal, Thin Ice and Ann Hui’s The Golden Era, aims to shed some light on how cinematic structures such as multiple narratives, juxtaposition of different time frames, and the adoption of diverse points of view contribute a multifaceted articulation of the rhetoric of the China Dream. Furthermore, by discussing these films against the background of the current Chinese film industry, this chapter points out how the officially promoted soft power gives way to challenging works, which often undermine China’s official narrative while endorsing China’s success. These works also testify to the increasing complexity of Chinese filmmaking both in relation to the domestic and the international film scene.

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