Sunday, November 1, 2015

Cinema & Taiwan/PRC Cross-Strait Relations

Here is the abstract for my upcoming presentation at the Association for Asian Studies 2016 Conference:

"Psychological Impasse in Cross-Strait Relations: Sympathetic Views of Japan in Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Café Lumiere and Zhang Yimou’s Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles"

(update: 7/20/2017: the lecture can be viewed via YouTube at this here.)

Taiwan and PRC cinema continue to provide fascinating insights into the political and psychological dynamics of cross-strait relations by revealing the tensions, conflicts, fears, and fantasies maintained by residents on both sides. In this analysis, a primary source of tension revolves around recently released historical films that depict Japan prior to 1945: on the one hand, anti-Japanese sentiment in the PRC is present in films such as Back to 1942 (Feng, 2012) which remind one of the anti-Japanese war films in Taiwan released in the 1970s; on the other hand, a complex relationship with the Japanese Colonial era in Taiwan is evident in Cape No. 7 (Wei, 2008) and Kano (Umin Boya, 2014) which demonstrate positive human interactions despite the strictures of the authoritarian colonial regime, revealing “the ambivalent nature of Taiwanese postcoloniality” as Liao Ping-Hui has written. Hou Hsiao-hsien’s film Café Lumiere (2003) arguably provides the example par excellence regarding Taiwan’s postcolonial relationship with Japan, as it presents a psychological impasse that must be bridged in order for stable cross-strait relations to be realized. Namely, the film suggests that the two island nations share remarkable similarities, while the mainland is out of the picture. In China, director Zhang Yimou’s Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2005) depicts both Japan and the mainland as it contemplates both the past and the present. So while the resolution to a number of questions that emerge within this study remain unsolved, significant data is available to us to assess in these cinematic records as the cross-strait drama continues to unfold.

Panel Title: "Divergences and Convergences: Comparative Studies of Contemporary Literature, Film and Theater in PRC and Taiwan"
Conference Dates: March 31-April 3, 2016

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