China's Sixth Generation directors general return to big screen. [Photo: chinesefilms.cn]
China's Sixth Generation directors, who have dedicated themselves to art-house films and black comedy, will release five movies on the mainland in April and May, chinesefilms.cn reports.
The five movies are Wang Xiaoshuai's feature film "11 Flowers," Guan Hu's comedy thriller "Design of Death," Ning Hao's action comedy "Guns and Roses," Zhang Yang's "Full Circle" and Yang Shupeng's "An Inaccurate Memoir." The spate of new releases will conclude in July with Wang Quan'an's epic movie "White Deer Plain."
After fierce box office revenue competition between Fifth Generation director Zhang Yimou's "The Flowers of War" and Tsui Hark's "Flying Swords of Dragon Gate" at the beginning of the year, the domestic film market now has become a battlefield for the Sixth Generation directors.
The Sixth Generation refers to directors born in the 1960s and 1970s, whose main theme is social reality. They use film as a medium to depict the living conditions of both common and marginalized people. They also regularly appear at foreign film festivals. Important figures among them include Jia Zhangke, Wang Xiaoshuai and Lu Chuan.
Yet, many people believe that the domestic film market is still dominated by Fifth Generation directors such as Zhang Yimou and Feng Xiaogang. Both of these big names have been very successful in producing commercial films that have earned high box office revenue.
On the other hand, the members of the Sixth Generation have yet to achieve any significant results in their homeland and tend to focus on foreign market.
Some industry insiders even say that no director will be able to seize the domestic film market after Zhang Yimou and Feng Xiaogang.
But signs of a transition have begun to appear this year.
Wang Xiaoshuai said in previous interview that there was "no clear-cut boundary between art-house films and commercial ones."
"To make our movies commercialized is to make our movies resonate with more audiences," Wang said.
Furthermore, the art-house movie "A Simple Life" has just swept mainland box office charts with revenue of 50 million yuan (US$7.9 million). Thrilled art-house filmmakers say the movie's initial success proves that now is the time for their flicks to be combined with commercial movies.
The five movies to be released in April and May all feature A-list actors—a sign that the Sixth Generation directors are now seeking higher domestic box office returns.
Wang Quan'an's "White Deer Plain" has shown it has the makings of a blockbuster movie after its production company released some video clips early this year.
Even Sixth Generation director Jia Zhangke is currently working on his first big-budget movie "At Qing Dynasty," which has a budget of more than 100 million yuan (US$ 15.8 million).
However, only time will tell whether China's Sixth Generation of film directors will finally be successful in their homeland.