2010 retrospective of Xie Jin's movies

2010-03-15 14:35 BJT


When we talk about Chinese movies over the past few decades, there's one name among all filmmakers that simply should not be missed. And that's Xie Jin. He's regarded as one of the third generation of Chinese directors, and impresses critics with his elaborate works that faithfully records a fast-changing China.

Recently a retrospective of Xin Jin's movies has opened in the MOMA cinemateque in downtown Beijing, tracing the director's artistic evolution.

The retrospective is more than a mere movie screening. Critics and professors from colleges and universities are invited to give lectures during the on-going half-month event. They are mingled with movie buffs in discussing and studying the exquisite movie language of Xie Jin in his classic works including "Woman Basketball Player No.5", "The Red Detachment of Women", "Two Stage Sisters" and "The Herdsman."

Xie Jin came to prominence in 1957 for directing the film "Woman Basketball Player No.5", China's first sports-themed movie filmed in color. The film traces the ups and downs of basketball player Tian Zhenhua before and after the founding of New China, and his twisted feelings for Lin Jie, his beloved who is forced to leave him, and Lin Xiaojie, Lin Jie's daughter, who has basketball talent but no interest in a sports career.

Lin Jie is played by Qin Yi, a good friend of Xie Jin. Qin was already an A-list star back then while Xie was just a poor student. "Woman Basketball Player No.5" swept across China and caused quite a stir among critics and cinema goers, and thus set the stage for Xie's future success.

"The Red Detachment of Women", Xie's 1963 film, won him a string of trophies, including Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Leading Actress and Best Supporting Actress at China's first "Hundred Flowers Award". It also won a trophy at the 3rd Asia-Africa Film Festival in 1964.

Hot on the heels of "Red Detachment", Xie Jin produced "Two Stage Sisters". The story takes place in a village in East China's Zhejiang Province, Xie's hometown. The movie traces the changing lives of women in 20th century China, set against the backdrop of the Shaoxing opera world. Although rooted in the intimate story of two actresses and the truth of their relationship, critics say Xie gave the film an epic scope by showing these women's lives buffeted by tremendous social and political upheavals. "Two Stage Sisters" won the Sutherland Trophy of British Film Institute Awards in the 24th London Film Festival.

Xie Fang, who portrayed the role of Zhu Chunhua in the picture, recalls working with Xie.

There's an idiom in China saying that "there is No ugly mom in a son's eyes and no poor master in a dog's mind", indicating that a person, no matter how successful he is or how well he is living overseas, should never forget his home country. And that inspired Xie to produce his 1982 film "The Herdsman". The film follows the life of a herdsman in western China from the 1950s through the Cultural Revolution, and his reunion with his father from America. What impressed critics the most was Xie's nuanced handling of the details and the music accompaniment to smartly echo the movie's theme. The film won Best Supporting Actor and Best Editing in 1983 at the 3rd Golden Rooster Awards. It also won Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor at the 6th Hundred Flowers Awards, which catapulted leading actors, Zhu Shimao and Cong Shan, to stardom.

Xie Jin's films are never short on the subject of human kindness and humanitarianism. Also, they carry such individual style that they could belong to no one else.

Xie Jin hoped his films could help to make a better world.

Xie Jin is an extremely popular director among the older generation of Chinese, with six of his films being voted Best Picture in the Hundred Flowers Awards. Xie Jin was always vigorous on set. He tirelessly kept on creating new films until his death in October 2008.

Xie Jin's movie retrospective at the MOMA cinemateque lasts for two weeks.

Editor: Liu Fang | Source: CCTV.com