Between Self expression and Commercialization: the Sixth Generation Between Self expression and Commercialization: the Sixth Generation Introduction The decline in Mao’s ideological influence on film industries, the domination of consumer-oriented cheap genre, the rise of a bureaucratic and urban middle class with the introduction of modern technology-based economy, the demand for elegant taste in films and movies among the modernized Chinese and the failure as well as stagnancy in the early 1980s Chinese Fifth Generation Film industry to fulfil these demands- all together prepared the plot for the rise of the Sixth Generation Chinese Film makers in the early 1990s…
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Many of the Fifth Generation filmmakers also felt this….self-sufficiency and commercialization, and had to reconsider their positions” (13). From an ideology-centered position, the directors were moving toward to a more individual centered stance. Individuals’ well and woe, as the subject, began to occupy the central place more and more in a movie. Referring to this new orientation, Peterson says, “The so called 5th generation – included Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou, the filmmakers we now associate with China’s cinematic revival” (Peterson 3). Though they felt the impulse to explore their ‘self’ as a nation, they, unlike the Sixth Generation Film directors, carefully avoid any direct collision with the dominant political culture. Struggle between Self-expression and Commercialization Choosing to follow their own ways posed a number of risks for these film makers in the 1990s. First, they had to depend on private finance, since depending on the governmental budget necessarily would bind them to follow the political guidance that often appeared to be contradictory to their free self-expressive zeal, as Peisa says, “For the cinema, the beginning of the 1990’s was, on the one hand a time of ever intensifying commercialism and on the other hand a politically sensitive time.” (13) Also depending on private financing was not that easy since it often was not as sufficient as the governmental allowances were. Second, commercializing posed to be a potential challenge for them. Shifting from the government fund to private sponsorship necessarily demanded a significant return from the making cost. There were challenges too for the self-expressionist film makers of the 1990s. The most common challenge was to win a market that had already been overly saturated with the supply of ideological but cheaply popular movies in that decade. Movies enriched with elegant theme and taste needed to be fully self-expressionist and self exploring in order to be popular among the majority of the moviegoers: a strategy that was bound to go against the political interests and culture of the era. Therefore avoiding the political wrath, these directors “began, for the first time in China, to realize their movies with private capital and without submitting the work for the censorship approval; hence they had to find alternative ways to show those works” (Gagliardi). In the beginning of the 1990s, one of crucial alternatives for the moviemakers was to enter into international market, as Gagliardi says, “One of these ways was the international film festival circuit where the movies found positive criticism and foreign producers” (Gagliardi). In spite of the government’s ban and censorship, the Sixth Generation movies that were critically appraised by the West made a massive infiltration into the country through mostly piracy. With the modernization of
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