Art movies are those non-commercial movies for the sake of arts. In the 1990s, China made fruitful achievements in making art movies. The representative directors are Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige, who have won international awards once and again.
Zhang made a lot of famous movies. Red Sorghum (1987), which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and achieved critical and commercial success, both internationally and domestically. Red Sorghum crackles with dynamic edits, striking close-ups, and gorgeously photographed images. Later Zhang made Ju Dou (1989), which won Best Film at the Chicago Film Festival and garnered an Academy Award nomination. His next film, Raise the Red Lantern (1992), widely considered his finest, also concerned a woman married into a controlling, abusive patriarchal world. Just as critics seemed to have identified a specific Zhang Yimou style, he released The Story of Qiu Ju (1992), which is about a pregnant peasant women seeking legal justice after her husband is beaten by a village leader. The Story of Qiu Ju won the Golden Lion (Best Picture) at the 1992 Venice Festival. In 1997 he released the comedy Keep Cool, featuring Jiang Wen, who starred in Red Sorghum. In 1999, his film Not One Less won the coveted Golden Lion at the 1999 Venice Film Festival. Farewell to My Concubine, a gorgeous melodrama by Zhang Yimou's contemporary Chen Kaige, also won international film award.
From the highly acclaimed director Xie Fei, a film Women from the Lake of Scented Souls shared the top Golden Bear Award at the 1993 Berlin International Film Festival.
The so-called sixth generation of Chinese filmmakers refers to a younger wave of makers. The younger filmmakers have quietly begun to make films that are attracting increasing attention at home and abroad with explosive creative energy.
Huang Jianxin directs films on the Urban Generation, who trains their cameras squarely on the everyday reality of contemporary Chinese city life. His representative films are Stand Straight and Don't Fall and Back to Back, Face to Face. Zhou Xiaowen, a director who insists that films should be made in a combination of arts style and commercial purpose. He made Ermo in 1994, highly acclaimed as a film of high art value. Young female director Li Shaohong directed Bloody Morning and The Unpuzzled 40 Age. In 1994 she directed Red Powder, which was a big success in box office. Sun Zhou, another director, made Heart Perfume in 1991 and Pretty Mom in 2000, portraying the public's daily life and indicating traditional spirits.
(chinaculture.org January 18, 2004)