Please note there has been a change of venue
The Chinese presence in British cinema dates from James Williamson's 1900 'documentary' film, Attack on a China Mission, a recreation of that year's 'Boxer rebellion' in which nationalist militants attempted to expel Christian missionaries and other foreigners from China. It was actually filmed in Brighton and Williamson had never visited China. A 'yellow-face' tradition followed, most popularly the Fu Manchu movies stretching through to the 1970s craze for kung fu - not until the early 1980s did Asian-British filmmakers finally make some inroads into the British film industry. In 1986 the first truly Chinese-British feature, Ping Pong (1986), reached the screen. Directed by the British-born director Po-Chi Leong, who had directed several features in Hong Kong, the film was set in London's Chinatown, with a largely unknown cast – except for David Yip, best known as TV's The Chinese Detective (BBC, 1981-82). Though critically lauded, however, the film failed to find the success it deserved, and neither it nor Mike Newell’s Soursweet (1988) adapted from Timothy Mo’s novel and scripted by Ian McEwan, has so far heralded the arrival of a healthy British-Chinese cinema. While China, Taiwan and Hong Kong-based directors like Zhang Yimou, Ang Lee and Wong Kar-Wai achieved arthouse and now mainstream success in Britain, other British-Chinese features such as BBC Film Peggy Su! (dir. Frances-Anne Solomon, 1998), failed to receive a proper release, despite favourable reviews. More recently Guo Xiaolu’s award winning film, She, A Chinese (2009), a British film in terms of its financing and much of its location, also failed to achieve due recognition from the film trade press and distributors. However a new generation of British-born or British-based Chinese are at the vanguard of positive change, amongst them University of Westminster alumna, Jo Ho, who created the hit BBC television show, Spirit Warriors (the first British series to star a predominantly East Asian cast) and who is now working on several feature films, and award winning director, Belfast born Lab Ky Mo (who will be speaking alongside Soursweet director Mike Newell, China in Britain #2 May 31st).
Programme : RSVP - Places are free but strictly limited so it is essential to register by emailing [email protected]
10am Coffee/welcome Anne Witchard, Principal Investigator, and Diana Yeh, Project Research Fellow
10.30am ‘Peking at the Pictures: Early Cinema, the Boxer Rebellion, and Anglo-American Perspectives on China’, Ross Forman (University of Warwick).
11.30am ‘Po-chih Leong, Britain's Forgotten Filmmaker', Felicia Chan (University of Manchester) and Andy Willis (University of Salford).
12.30 - 2pm lunch
2 – 2.45pm Jo Ho will talk about her work.
3pm Guo Xiaolu (Author and filmmaker) will introduce a screening of her film She, A Chinese followed by Q and A