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Yomi Braester - How the Cinema Liberated Shanghai: Rewriting History through Film

Shanghai’s capture by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in May 1949 was the pinnacle of the Communist defeat of Chiang Kai-shek’s forces, which retreated to Taiwan. The fall of Shanghai also accrued symbolic meanings that changed with time. The significance of Shanghai’s takeover was presented and refashioned in many films.

From portraying the PLA as a grassroots organization, to extolling the PLA soldiers’ moral rectitude and frugality; to emphasizing the pedigree of the coastal city as the cradle of the revolution or conversely as the capitalist nemesis of the Communist spirit rooted in the countryside; to showcasing Shanghai’s transformation into an industrial hub and military base for Cold War operations; and even reflecting on the shifting role of the film industry — movies were essential to reinventing Shanghai. The talk examines many of the films that have changed image, including among others. An Orphan on the Streets (1949) to Sentinels Under the Neon Lights (1964) and I Wish I Knew (2010).

Yomi Braester is Byron and Alice Lockwood Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media at the University of Washington in Seattle, as well as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Beijing Film Academy. He is also the co-editor of Journal of Chinese Cinemas. Among his books are Witness Against History: Literature, Film, and Public Discourse in Twentieth-Century China (2003) and Painting the City Red: Chinese Cinema and the Urban Contract (2010), which won the Joseph Levenson Book Prize. Among his current book projects is Cinephilia Besieged: Viewing Communities and the Ethics of the Image in the People’s Republic of China, which is supported by a Guggenheim fellowship.

DATE: Thursday, December 12, 2019

TIME: 17:00

LOCATION: SIN 1, at the Department for East Asian Studies/Chinese Studies,

Altes AKH, Campus, Spitalgasse 2, Yard 2, Entrance 2.3

Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften
Universität Wien
Spitalgasse 2 - Hof 2
1090 Wien
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