The sun sits on a Century of Chinese Cinema

In the hidden concrete midst of Southbank’s cultural centre lies a haven for every foreign film fanatic. This utopia holds no prejudice to either the avid or casual film enthusiast; as long as watching films is a favourite pastime and you love Chinese culture then the BFI’s Century of Chinese Cinema will not disappoint.


Today we will give a brief outline on the BFI’s new summer project which is helping promote China’s rich cinematic culture in the UK, and list four must-see Chinese films! 


The BFI (British Film Institute) has played a big part in providing a platform on which foreign films and filmmakers can share the spotlight amongst a western audience.

However, 2014 is China’s year – the sleeping dragon has been awoken to take its place at the BFI Southbank. Under five main thematic areas of cinematic development, ranging from the 1930s golden age via kung-fu and swordplay epics to new waves and the modern era, the Century of Chinese Cinema celebrates 100 years of Chinese cinema.

It should be noted that promoting Chinese cinema is not entirely a new phenomenon – previous ventures such as the China Film Festival and the China Image Film Festival have both made great contributions. But I believe that none have been as interactive with the public, who are the main driving forces when promoting a foreign culture.

Yet the UK audience still lack a considerable deal of cultural awareness when it comes to Chinese culture, especially Chinese cinema. For so long we have been saturated with a plethora of martial art ‘wuxia’ films, which in turn has taken centre stage, shadowing other genres which China does so well  (although I am a sucker for old school Martial art flicks; a main reason I began learning Mandarin Chinese!). Thus, hearing that Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is China’s highest grossing film in the West should not raise any bedazzled eyebrows.

Moving forward, we need only to feast our eyes on China’s neighbour, Korea, and Korean Cinema’s ever-growing popularity over here. Thousands of dedicated fans flock to the Korean Cinema festival every year, with many continuing to binge religiously on Korean films and dramas even after the annual event. Comedies are as popular as thrillers or romances.

So if Korea can do it, why cant china?

The BFI has taken a great step in realising the great diversity and development of Chinese Cinema through this exhibition, and recently signed a Sino-UK film co-production treaty with China to continue great cooperation between both sides.

Below are Chinese Viewfinder’s 4 must-see Chinese films!

Private Eyes
The Private Eyes is a 1976 Hong Kong comedy film directed by and starring Michael Hui. The film revolves around the exploits of a detective agency in Hong Kong called Mannix Private Detective Agency. Sammo Hung served as the film’s action director and Jackie Chan was also a stuntman. It was listed as number 13 in the 100 best Chinese films.

Spring in a Small Town

Taking place in a ruined family compound after the Sino-Japanese War, the film tells the story of the once prosperous Dai family. It is considered to be one of the greatest Chinese films ever made. It deals with strong themes such as unrequited love, loyalty, gender roles and personal conflicts.  

Internal affairs

Infernal Affairs tells the story of a police officer who infiltrates a triad, and a police officer secretly working for the same gang. The 2005 Hong Kong Film Awards placed Internal Affairs at 32nd place for the 100 best Chinese motion pictures.

One Armed Swordsman
One-Armed Swordsman is a 1967 wuxia film produced by the Shaw Brothers Studio. It is notable for being the first of the new style of wuxia films emphasizing male anti-heroes, violent swordplay and heavy blood-letting. In addition it was the first Hong Kong film to make HK$1 million at the local box office.

If this blog post has reignited your love for Chinese cinema head over to the BFI Southbank before the end of this month for the last chapter of its Century of Chinese Cinema exhibition. Details can be found at:

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