Founding of the Center for Shanghai Film Industry Studies

A typical Chinese-style gathering, the symposium of the founding of the Center for Shanghai Film Industry Studies, held on May 30, 2015, saw a mixed group of people, including representatives from the film industry, film scholars and critics, and government officials (even people from the Party propaganda department), coming together to discuss issues related to the Shanghai film industry, especially the ever-present theme of reviving Shanghai cinema and restoring its pre-1949 status as China’s film center. Attendees spoke from different positions and diverse backgound, with film scholars and critics most critical about the role the government/Party is playing.

Founding members of the Center for Shanghai Film Industry Studies, taken on May 30, 2015 at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Conference Hall. Sixth from left is Mr. Rn Zhonglun, president of the Shanghai Film Group.

Founding members of the Center for Shanghai Film Industry Studies, taken on May 30, 2015 at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Conference Hall. Sixth from left is Mr. Ren Zhonglun, president of the Shanghai Film Group.

It is a little odd that such a center is initiated and physically located at the Institute of Literature, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, from which I obtained my MA degree in modern Chinese literature. One justification is that the Academy, under the pressure of the government/Party, is aiming to transform itself from a research entity into a Chinese-style “think-tank,” and what a literary department could do in this transition is to divert its scholarly attention to supposedly more “practical issues” like the area of the “cultural industry” or “creative industry.”

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