“China Film” documents film sets, locations and the vast outdoor movie sets around Beijing, Shanghai, and Hengdian, China. The images provide a window into an evolving movie industry and global media culture.
China is poised to become the largest motion picture market in the world. In fact, China is nowadays the second largest film market in the world after the U.S, and it continues to grow. Box office receipts amounted to $2.8 billion in 2013. Around the country, entire towns have been constructed for the sole purpose of making movies in order to feed the growing demand. An hour’s drive outside Shanghai is a film lot that includes a reconstruction of several blocks of circa 1930s Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s famous shopping high street. Hengdian, in a region of the country known for manufacturing cheap souvenirs, consists of five distinct film villages, including a full-size replica of the Forbidden City. All of the permanent sets portray aspects of Chinese history. While most films produced here get little attention outside the Chinese market, the state-run film industry is working to change that. Just as Hollywood became an essential tool for U.S. ‘soft power’ diplomacy in the twentieth century, China’s growing film industry seeks to have a similar global influence in this century.