2019 Programs

In Search of China’s Soul: Sun Xun on the Intersection of Memory, Politics, History, and Art

Renowned artist Sun Xun in conversation with contemporary art expert, Barbara Pollack


Image credit: Museum of Contemporary Art; Art Basel Hong Kong

Tuesday, May 14, 6:30-8:30 PM
Speaker: Sun Xun, Barbara Pollack
Members: Free; Non-Members: $10
Location: 40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10006

Join us for a discussion of today’s art scene with Sun Xun, one of China’s most talented rising young artists. Sun Xun’s practice combines meticulous craftsmanship with stylistic experimentation not limited to any one medium. Sun Xun was born in Fuxin, an industrial mining town in northeast China, and grew up in the period immediately following the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The lingering aftereffects of this movement continue to have a profound impact on his work, which often explores the themes of global history, culture, memory and politics. Sun Xun will discuss these ideas in the context of his work with Barbara Pollack, of the world’s leading authorities on Chinese art in this one of a kind event.


May Fourth at 100: Intellectual Voices and the Future of China

Top China experts explore the May Fourth Movement and why it matters today

Sunday, May 5, 1:00-5:00 PM
Speakers: Jiayang Fan, Leta Hong Fincher, Gail Hershatter, William Kirby, Li Chenjian, Lydia Liu, Viren Murthy, Andrew Nathan, XIE Linlan, Zhang Xudong, Sun Xun
Tickets: Students $10; Members $15; Non-Members $20
Location: 40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10006

A diverse array of China thought leaders – from Harvard’s Bill Kirby to Peking University Chair Professor Li Chengjian and feminist writer Leta Hong Fincher — explores the intellectual currents that shook a nation. The goal is to approach this pivotal time in China’s history from a variety of scholarly and artistic perspectives.

The May Fourth Movement, which erupted throughout China’s intellectual circles in 1919, has been called “China’s Enlightenment.” It began with student protests over the Treaty of Versailles, then exploded into a national movement that rejected traditional Chinese values in an effort to strengthen the country and modernize its society.

Today, as China sustains an uneasy relationship with the West, and the government tightens control, what can we learn from the legacy of May Fourth in the context of where China is now and where it will go in the future?


CineCina Film Festival Screening w/ Post-Screening Discussion: Spring Fever (春风沉醉的夜晚)

Friday, April 19, 8:00 PM
SVA Theatre
333 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011
Tickets: $25

Winner of the Best Screenplay award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, acclaimed independent director LOU Ye’s Spring Fever is a modern romance/drama centering on a gay relationship, exploring LGBTQ themes that have been historically underrepresented in the mainland Chinese cinemascape.Learn More

This film marks the closing event of the CineCina Film Festival (April 5-19) and will feature a post-screening discussion.


Long Day’s Journey into Night (地球最后的夜晚)

Saturday, April 13, 3:00 PM
Film Society of Lincoln Center – Walter Reade Theater
165 W 65th St, New York, NY 10023
Tickets: Non-members: $15; Members: $12*

*China Institute members can contact [email protected] with your membership ID to receive a discount code. Information will also be shared with members in our members’ newsletter.

Bi Gan follows up his knockout debut, Kaili Blues, with this noir-tinged film about a solitary man (Jue Huang) haunted by loss and regret. Co-starring Chinese superstars Sylvia Chang and Wei Tang, the film features an hour-long, gravity-defying 3D sequence shot, which plunges its protagonist—and us—through a labyrinthine cityscape. Learn More


Suburban Birds (郊区的鸟)

Friday, April 5, 2019, 7:00 PM
Speakers: Qiu Sheng, Aliza Ma
Tickets: Members: $12*; Non-Members: $15
Location: Metrograph, No.7 Ludlow Street, New York NY 10002

Metrograph will offer $12 tickets to China Institute members, but to redeem this discount, tickets must be purchased at the box office by showing your China Institute Member ID Card. This discount is not available for tickets purchased online.

Qiu Sheng’s feature debut is a bold and beguiling opening salvo from a singular talent, twining together two distinct narrative strands—one involving land surveyors preparing for the laying of subway tracks investigating a strange phenomenon in the sinking soil of a suburban development, another following preadolescents as they rove unsupervised in the streets of the same town. Following the screening, Qiu Sheng will participate in a Q&A moderated by Metrograph Program Director Aliza Ma. Learn More

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The Film Society at China Institute presents:

Gong Li, China’s Cinematic Muse: The Story of Qiu Ju (秋菊打官司) and Zhou Yu’s Train (周瑜的火车)

Zhou Yu’s Train (2002)
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Start at 6:00 PM
Members: FREE; Non-Members: $5
Learn More & Register Now

Location: 40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10006

The Film Society at China Institute offers a series of programs for Sinophiles and Cinephiles to join us in exploring the diverse and dynamic world of Chinese film! In March, we examine two films that feature one of China’s most prominent actresses: Gong Li.

Gong Li was a student at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing in 1985 when she met Zhang Yimou, a young cinematographer. Zhang chose her for the lead role in Red Sorghum (1988), his first film as a director. The movie was met with critical acclaim, and over the next decade, the pair worked together on six additional films, which vaulted Zhang Yimou to the forefront of China’s fifth generation of directors. Gong Li became a national and international sensation. Gong received wide acclaim for her performance in the Oscar-nominated Raise the Red Lantern (1991), which put her firmly in the international spotlight and established her reputation, according to Asiaweek, as “one of the world’s most glamorous movie stars and an elegant throwback to Hollywood’s golden era.” Today, Gong has starred in over 30 films by many of China’s most prominent directors and has been credited with helping to bring Chinese cinema to prominence in Europe and the United States. In this mini-series, we will examine the actress’s work through two of her greatest performances, in the films The Story of Qiu Ju, and Zhou Yu’s Train.


6th Annual Orchid Pavilion Gathering: The Artist Talk

Saturday, March 16, 3:00–5:00 PM
Event Fee: Members Free; Non-Members $10; Students $5
Location: 40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10006

Join China Institute Gallery this Asia Week for the launch of our inaugural Artist Talk at the 6th Orchid Pavilion Gathering, an annual literati get-together. Renowned art critic, Robert C. Morgan, and Director of China Institute Gallery, Willow Weilan Hai, will host a talk with three contemporary Chinese women artists based in the United States for decades – Guo Zhen, Lin Yan, and Liu Landing – to discuss identity and gender in contemporary Chinese art.


This event will be livestream on our YouTube channel, click below on Wednesday, March 13, 6:00–7:30 PM to watch remotely and interact with us!

Divided Loyalty: Being Chinese in America

Playwright David Henry Hwang and Curator Xin Wang in conversation about the challenges of being Chinese in Trump’s America. Nancy Yao Maasbach, President of the Museum of Chinese in America, will moderate.

Wednesday, March 13, 6:00–7:30 PM
Speakers: David Henry Hwang, Xin Wang, Nancy Yao Maasbach
Event Fee: Members Free; Non-Members $15
Location: 40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10006

What is it like to be Chinese in America these days? Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang, author of M Butterfly, will be joined by art historian and curator Xin Wang, and Nancy Yao Maasbach, President of the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), to explore complex questions of identity. As anti-China rhetoric rises, Chinese in this country – from long-time U.S. citizens to newly arrived students – are placed on the defensive, often having to publicly declare their political loyalties. At the same time, the Chinese government – playing on ethnic loyalty – pulls on their heartstrings, with messaging aimed at gaining support for China’s policies.

This event is co-presented by the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) and is part of Carnegie Hall’s Migrations: The Making of America Festival.


An Elephant Sitting Still
A Cinematic Triumph from Writer/Director Hu Bo

Saturday, March 9, 2:00–6:00 PM
Event Fee: General Public: $15; Students and Seniors (62+): $12
Location: FSLC’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th St

This intensely felt epic, already being hailed as a landmark of contemporary Chinese cinema, marks a career cut tragically short: its first-time director Hu Bo took his life shortly after completing the film, at the age of 29. The protagonist of this modern reworking of the tale of Jason and the Argonauts is teenage Wei Bu, who critically injures a school bully by accident. Over a single, eventful day, he crosses paths with a classmate, an elderly neighbor, and the bully’s older brother, all of them bearing their own individual burdens, and all drawn as if by gravity to the city of Manzhouli, where a mythical elephant is said to sit, indifferent to a cruel world. Through this complex interweaving of stories, full of moody close-ups and virtuosic tracking shots, Bo explores the violence, isolation, and anxieties of contemporary urban life in China.

Following the film stay for a talk back and Q&A with actor Zhang Yu, who plays Yu Cheng in the film; Dinda Elliott, senior vice president of the China Institute; Aliza Ma, head of programming at Metrograph; and Nicolas Rapold, editor-in-chief of Film Comment and host of The Film Comment Podcast.

This film is presented by The Film Society of Lincoln Center, with support from China Institute and the Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation. Learn More


Monthly Mixer at China Institute: With special guest Robert Delaney

Thursday, February 28, 6:00–7:30 PM
Event Fee: Members Free; Non-Members $10
Location: 40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10006

Join China Institute at our monthly mixer to mingle with old and new friends who share an interest in all things China. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided, plus a special reading this month of The Wounded Muse by author/journalist Robert F. Delaney.

Robert F. Delaney arrived in China as a student in 1992, and has been covering the country as a journalist for media outlets including Dow Jones Newswires, Bloomberg News, and South China Morning Post since 1995. Professionally, he spent many years covering the twists and turns of the country’s economic transformation and the evolution of the Sino-U.S. bilateral relationship. In his spare time, Robert turned to focus on writing about the personal struggles of those in the middle of these changes, which led to his first novel, The Wounded Muse. Many of the themes for the book were first developed in Route 1 to China, a collection of memoirs that won Robert first runner up in the University of Toronto – Penguin Random House Creative Writing Competition in 2012.


The Film Society at China Institute presents:

China through the Western Gaze: The Good Earth (1937) and The Last Emperor (1987)

The Last Emperor (1987)
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Start at 6:00 PM

Location: 40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10006

The Film Society at China Institute offers a series of programs for Sinophiles and Cinephiles to join us in exploring the diverse and dynamic world of Chinese film! In this series we will screen two works by Western filmmakers, The Good Earth and The Last Emperor, and explore how they presented stories about China to the West. The representation of China and Asian countries has had a checkered history in American productions. There have been recurring problems with the paucity of roles for Asian professionals both behind and in front of the camera and inaccurate and insensitive cultural representations. These screenings will offer the opportunity to look at how two films from different eras, beloved and critically acclaimed in their time, resonate today.


The Film Society at China Institute presents:

Myriads of Lights (万家灯火) and Crows and Sparrows (乌鸦与麻雀): Classics from the Second Generation of Chinese Cinema

Myriads of Lights 万家灯火 (1948)
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Start at 6:00 PM

Crows and Sparrows 乌鸦与麻雀 (1949)
Speakers: Richard Peña, Zheng Dali (郑大里)
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Start at 6:00 PM

Location: 40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10006

We are proud to launch The Film Society at China Institute, a series of programs for Sinophiles and Cinephiles to join us in exploring the diverse and dynamic world of Chinese film! We open with a series of two films, Myriads of Lights (万家灯火) and Crows and Sparrows (乌鸦与麻雀).

In the late 1940s, on the eve of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, two brave directors cut through the chaos of China’s civil war to make sense of Chinese society using the developing medium of film. Seven decades later, China Institute is opening its archives to present a pair of classic works from this “second generation” of Chinese filmmakers, who are credited with transforming Chinese cinema from the era of silent films, into a new golden age of sound.


Monthly Mixer at China Institute

A Chinese New Year Celebration with special guest Rapper Bohan Phoenix

Thursday, January 31, 6:00-8:30 PM
Members: Free (Become a Member Now!); Non-Members: $10

A Chinese New Year Celebration for ALL MEMBERS, with special guest Bohan Phoenix in the house!

Come kick off the celebration of the Year of the Pig at China Institute with Brooklyn via Chengdu rap sensation Bohan Phoenix. Free for all members. Attendees will be treated to light snacks and refreshments alongside a pop-up Q&A session with Phoenix. Bring your questions and high spirits! Raffles for a Starbucks gift card and a $100 certificate to Jasmine Chinese Restaurant!


China’s Food Revolution: Lucky Chow Season 3 Premiere

Plus: Meet the culinary pioneers who are elevating Chinese cuisine to new heights

Tuesday, January 29, 6:00-8:00 PM
Speakers: Danielle Chang, Lucky Chow host; Lucas Sin, Junzi Kitchen Chef; Doron Wong, Asian Food Mafia co-founder; Jenny Gao, Fly by Jing founder ; Amelie Kang, MaLa Project co-founder
Members: Free(Become a Member Now!); Students: $5; Non-Members: $10

“If we are what we eat, then we’re all-part Asian.” China Institute screens the Season 3 Premiere of Lucky Chow: Stories of Asian Culinary Culture, a PBS series that documents LUCKYRICE founder Danielle Chang’s travels to discover how Asia’s cuisines provide a window to understanding of its cultures.

Following the screening, Chang will sit down with emerging star chefs Lucas Sin of Junzi Kitchen, Jenny Gao of Fly by Jing, Amelie Kang of Málà Project, and Doron Wong of Northern Tiger (co-founder of the Asian Food Mafia), to discuss the new Chinese food scene that is focusing on storytelling, experimentation, and the use of organic ingredients to elevate the cuisine to new heights.


Future Shock! From Video Games to Art

Author Barbara Pollack in conversation with Lu Yang, China’s hottest new digital artist

Wednesday, January 23, 6:00-7:30 PM
Moderator: Xiaorui Zhu-Nowell
Speakers: Barbara Pollack; Lu Yang
Members: Free(Become a Member Now!); Students: $5; Non-Members: $10

A visionary generation of young Chinese artists are coming to prominence in the art world – just as China cements its place as the second largest art market on the planet. Building on frontiers opened up by the Chinese artists of the late 1980s and 1990s, artists such as Ai Wei Wei who came to the West and became household names, this new generation are provocative, exciting and global in perspective. Where do young Chinese artists find inspiration, and what does their work tell us about their rapidly changing society?

On January 23, renowned critic Barbara Pollack will sit down with LU Yang, China’s hottest new digital artist, and Xiaorui Zhu-Nowell, Assistant Curator at the Guggenheim Museum, to discuss what this new generation of artists and their work mean for China, the art market, and the world.


Soup Dumpling Workshop – Shanghai Style!

Saturday, January 12, 2:00-4:30 PM
Location: Jasmine Restaurant at 216 East 49th Street New York, NY 10017
Young Professional Leader Members: $20 plus processing fee
Young Professional Members: $25 plus processing fee
All sales are finals and non-transferrable.(Become a Member Now!)

Please join China Institute for a special food-making workshop at Jasmine Chinese Restaurant located in mid-town Manhattan. Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy the soup dumplings you make! To RSVP contact [email protected] or call 212-744-8181 ext. 158. Learn More & Register Now!

Upcoming Events

Film Society Screening: Platform (站台), 2000
May 22, 2019
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Film Society Screening: The Troubleshooters (顽主), 1989
May 29, 2019
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Shadow Puppet Performance + Talk: Chinese Theatre Works’ Shadow Restoration Project
June 12, 2019
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June 15 Mahjong Club at China Institute
June 15, 2019
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Night at the Museums: A Free Evening of Art, Music, Film, and Entertainment
June 25, 2019
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Past Programs