Report on “Chinese Opera Film: At the Intersection of Theater, Cinema, and Politics,” An International Conference Held at the University of Chicago Center in Beijing, June 14–16, 2012
- CHINOPERL: Journal of Chinese Oral and Performing Literature
- University of Hawai'i Press
- Volume 32, Number 1, July 2013
- pp. 89-90
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REPORT ON ``CHINESE OPERA FILM: AT THE INTERSECTION OF THEATER, CINEMA, AND POLITICS,'' AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE HELD AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO CENTER IN BEIJING, JUNE 14±16, 2012 JUDITH T. ZEITLIN University of Chicago This international, interdisciplinary conference on Chinese opera ®lm, principally organized by Judith Zeitlin, Paola Iovene, and Xinyu Dong of the University of Chicago and Fu Jin 9 of the National Academy of Theater Arts (Zhongguo xiqu xueyuan - 2òxb), brought together scholars and graduate students from the U.S., China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the U.K., and New Zealand for three days of papers, roundtables, and ®lm screenings in Beijing. The conference emerged from a pioneering two-day symposium on this topic held at the University of Chicago Film Studies Center in April 2009. The success of the symposium led to an invitation from The Opera Quarterly for Judith Zeitlin and Paola Iovene to co-edit a special double issue on this topic, the ®rst time that this journal (published by Oxford) has ventured outside the Western canon. This special issue was simultaneously published both in hard copy and online in September 2010.1 Chinese opera ®lms were much more than mere recordings of stage performances and by no means a minor by-product for the ®lm industry. Opera®lms were produced in astounding numbers in socialist ChinaÐmore than 120 were made between 1953 and 1966 alone, another 216 plus were produced from 1970 to 1988, and although the number of new Chinese opera ®lms has since radically decreased, older ®lms continue to be released every year and the old``classics'' are constantly aired on the CCTV Chinese opera channel. The production and consumption of such ®lms is arguably more complicated than ordinary ®lms, so to make sense of them a collective effort is needed that brings together a variety of ®elds of inquiry and disciplinary approaches, including history, politics, drama, music, art design, and cinema. The preliminary Chicago symposium focused on discourses and practices in the People's Republic from its founding through the Cultural Revolution, bringing to light widely-shared theoretical and practical concerns as well as particular 1 For the table of contents, go to http://oq.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/2-3.toc?etoc. CHINOPERL: Journal of Chinese Oral and Performing Literature 32.1 (July 2013): 89±90 # The Permanent Conference on Chinese Oral and Performing Literature, Inc. 2013 DOI: 10.1179/0193777413Z.0000000003 performative and musical elements that ®lmmakers adapted from various art forms for these productions. The Beijing conference continued this work by presenting case studies of key ®lms, ®lmmakers, and performers; such case studies provide a crucial empirical foundation for more sweeping overviews and analyses that will come in the future. The Beijing conference expanded the inquiry begun in Chicago in several important new directions: First, it explored the role of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia as transregional producers and audiences for opera ®lms during the Cold War; second, it considered the representation of opera within feature ®lms; and third, it included the voices of opera ®lm practitioners themselves. The conference began with a keynote speech delivered by Chris Berry (University of London) on the color red in Cultural Revolution model opera ®lms and ended with a revelatory paper by Sai-shing Yung ¹ on the brief history of Chaoju n (Chaozhou opera) ®lm as a niche market in Southeast Asia. Other highlights included presentations by ®lm directors Xiao Lang and Zheng Dasheng -'V, and actress Yang Chunxia J%, as well as papers by scholars from multiple ®elds such as Zhao Jingbo oÃ, Zhou Huabin hï, Wang Anqi H, Wenwei Du, Paul Clark, Zhong Dafeng 'P, Gao Xiaojian Ø e, Kenny Ng, Kristine Harris, Kwok-Wai Hui, Hai Zhen w, and Giorgio Biancorosso. An important component of both the Chicago and Beijing conferences has been the screening of opera ®lms in their original 35mm formats thanks to the cooperation of the China Film Archive. The 2009 Chicago conference featured screenings of Third Sister You (You Sanjie $ Ð; 1963) and Chasing the Fish Spirit (Zhui yu ýZ; 1959), subtitled in English by University of Chicago graduate students Peng Xu and Anne Rebull, respectively. The Beijing conference included screenings in...