Recap: Seeing China Through Film: Crows and Sparrows, 7.21.21
On July 21, after a quick swap of the featured film between that day and July 28, China Institute hosted the second installment of our new Summer series Seeing China Through Film, exploring the beginnings of Chinese cinema as the country faced social and political turmoil and war, focusing on the 1920s-1960s. Weaving elements from Hollywood, Soviet cinema, and traditional art, Chinese filmmakers sought to be part of the intense dialogue about the future of their nation.
We also made the decision, in an abundance of caution, to transition the series solely to virtual discussions. The films are available to watch for free online prior to our live conversation.
This second program brought back Weihong Bao, Associate Professor of Chinese and Film Studies at the University of California, Berkley for a discussion of Crows and Sparrows, an iconic 1949 film, and one of the finest examples of critical realism.
Acclaimed as a classic realism film made at the end of the turbulent ‘40s, Crows and Sparrows reflects an ever-growing zeal in the general public—fed up with corruption, inflation, and social inequity—for a new era and new society.At the twilight of the second Civil War, a corrupt Nationalist (KMT) official, Hou Yibo, forcibly takes over an apartment building from its original owner, Kong Youwen. As the defeat of the KMT is about to take place, Hou attempts to sell off the property to profit one last time before he escapes to Taiwan. His tenants, including Mr. Kong, Mrs. Xiao, Little Broadcast and Mr. Hua and his wife, have to find ways to avoid being thrown onto the street.
Weihong Bao is Associate Professor of Chinese + Film Studies at UC-Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2006. She is the author of Fiery Cinema: The Emergence of an Affective Medium in China, 1915-1945.
Bao serves on the editorial board for Feminist Media History and is co-editor for the “Film Theory in Media History” series published by Amsterdam University Press.
Full Video of the Panel Talk:
Movies Discussed and Viewing Links:
Crows and Sparrows, 大路, 1949
Director: Zheng Junli. 111 minutes.
Mandarin, with English subtitles.
Next in the Seeing China Through Film Series: