Award-winning films vs the image of China

Every year, the award-winning films in major film festivals are always attracting much attention. In general, those award-winning films not only represent the level of development of the film industry in various countries but also are generally regarded as a portrayal of a country’s reality.

Usually, shaping the national image cannot be separated from certain works of art. As far as the poets in Tang Dynasty admire the great Tang Dynasty, Homer’s Epic extols ancient Greek civilization, as close as the popularity of Japanese cartoons and Korean TV dramas, artistic works play an irreplaceable role in shaping the image of a country. It can be said that artistic works cannot play a decisive role in shaping the national image, but it is one of the most effective means.

Film art is a comprehensive art that integrates music, art, literature, drama and other art forms. It not only contains various advantages and characteristics of other art forms but also has its own unique advantages and characteristics. For foreign audiences, Chinese films that can be unveiled at international film festivals such as Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Tokyo, and Rotterdam undoubtedly represent the level of film and television production in China. Foreign audiences who know little about China may take it for granted that the characters in those films are the spiritual portrayal of the whole Chinese people, and thus form a corresponding understanding of China in their minds.

Since 1988, Chinese films have won many awards at the three international film festivals in Berlin, Cannes, and Venice. Chinese films have gradually stepped onto the world stage, which is worthy of recognition and praise. But it is worth thinking whether these award-winning films truly reflect the social situation in contemporary China in terms of themes and content, and whether they have effectively played an important role in shaping the image of China. To summarize and classify these award-winning films based on subject matter and content, something could be found.

From the time content described in the film, with 1949 as the dividing line, these award-winning films can be roughly divided into three categories. One is to express the contradictions of Chinese society before 1949, such as “Red Sorghum“, “Raise the Red Lantern“, “Devils on the Doorstep“, etc.  Another type presents the contradiction of Chinese society after 1949, such as “The Story of Qiu Ju“, “Still life“, “In the Heart of the Sun” and so on. The last category has crossed this line, such as “Farewell My Concubine” and the like. From the perspective of the theme presented, these films can be divided into two categories: urban theme and rural theme. From the ideological point of view, most films aim to reveal the sharp contradictions which are about human nature or have existed in society, and arouse people to make profound thinking and self-criticism, such as “In Love We Trust“, “Still Life“, “Not One Less“, etc. others like “Hero” “The Emperor And The Assassin” take the road of entertainment films.

These films can also be divided into many categories depending on the describing method. But no matter how to divide it, these award-winning films seem to have a common feature— that is overexpressing a certain dark side of Chinese society while ignoring the positive side, or even some films do their best to vent certain personal emotions through exaggerated ways, some creative themes which should be very serious are commercialized and become comedy and even ugly. Due to this point, these films have caused fierce controversy within a certain range. Film festivals are not only something about films itself and their circuit, sometimes they delivery some information about a group of people, a city or a country and a social reality, sometimes I think that some goals can be achieved through films and film festivals, just like shaping the image of a country.

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