Would you pay to see these movies?

What could be more enjoyable than watching 28 movies promoted by SARFT to celebrate the 90th birthday of the Chinese Communist Party? The Global Times gushes:

Jian Dang Wei Ye (Beginning of the Great Revival, or The Founding of a Party), a movie chronicling the history of the Communist Party of China (CPC), premiered in Beijing on Wednesday. It is among 28 movies promoted by the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the CPC, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

….The movie is one of the films promoted by the SARFT for the Party’s anniversary.

Tong Gang, director of the SARFT, said at a promotion event on Tuesday that SARFT had selected 28 movies for recommendation and added that these movies serve as a report that the Chinese movie industry has submitted to the CPC and the Chinese people, according to Xinhua on Wednesday.

The 28 movies include a profile of Qian Xuesen, CPC member and pioneer of Chinese missile and space projects, a movie depicting the rebuilding of the quake-hit Beichuan in Sichuan Province and a movie about the development of the J-10 fighter jet.

Tong asked the distributors to “be highly aware of the films’ political and social responsibilities” when showing the movies.

Twenty-eight propaganda movies to celebrate a birthday no one gives a crap about except the birthday boy. That’s probably about 60 hours worth of propaganda. Can you imagine being forced to watch 60 hours of CCTV? Because I suspect that’s what it will feel like.

And Tong is basically admitting this is pure propaganda. Will the Chinese people really flock to see these movies?

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 40 Comments

It’s got to be awkward for a Communist Party State to celebrate itself when that state’s fortunes only started looking up when the Party abandoned core Communist tenets.

June 10, 2011 @ 5:04 am | Comment

I wouldn’t mind watching that one. But that was before the butchers took control.

June 10, 2011 @ 5:13 am | Comment

@slim
You’d think so, but I don’t see them all that concerned about the hypocrisy.

June 10, 2011 @ 8:09 am | Comment

” BEIJING, June 9 (Xinhua) — More than 1 million copies of the second volume of the “History of the Communist Party of China (CPC)” had been sold as of mid-May, just four months since the book was published after 16 years of painstaking editing, a senior official historian said Thursday.

Historians are now working on the third volume covering the post-1978 period when China embarked on the reform and opening up, said Li Zhongjie, deputy director of the Party History Research Center of the CPC Central Committee, at a press conference.

The second volume, which features major events of the CPC from 1949 to 1978, has dominated sales in major Beijing bookstores for weeks.”

Come on, Guys. Lets have a bit of empathy for the writers and directors who had to tip toe thru this interpretive tightrope.

One scene off narrative, and hey, you are in the aeroplane position.

June 10, 2011 @ 8:29 am | Comment

I’ll probably go see Jian Dang Wei Ye; if it’s as entertaining as The Founding of a Republic, it should be worth the ticket price.

June 10, 2011 @ 8:52 am | Comment

@Ricard – Actually, for a fresh dose of propaganda-tastic awesomeness, I like nothing better than to watch some of the awesome-bad films from the 50′s and early 60′s.

Landmine Warfare is just the coolest – half western, half IED guerilla warfare handbook. It basically teaches you how to lay mines so as to create the greatest casualties whilst blasting you with CCP propaganda and “prepare for war” rhetoric.

The Wolves Of Langyashan is also pretty awesome. The best scene is the one in which the brave PLA soldier, having disguised himself as an outlaw to gain the evil bandit’s trust, passes a death sentence on one of them by murmuring to himself, and silently kills him.

The modern propaganda flicks simply can’t compare.

June 10, 2011 @ 12:35 pm | Comment

“Can you imagine being forced to watch 60 hours of CCTV?”
-Being forced by who?

“And Tong is basically admitting this is pure propaganda.”
-Glad that both CCP and the director is honest about it.

“Will the Chinese people really flock to see these movies?”
-Yes, as long as the hundreds celebrities from China, Taiwan and HK were ‘being forded’ to have a role in this movie.

June 10, 2011 @ 2:46 pm | Comment

Buzz is just fading here over the fact that Hong Kong produced the world’s first 3D porn flick. According to reviewers (all guys, of course), 3D technology can make fake boobs look even bigger.
That’s “one country, two systems” for you!

The NYT reports today that the U.S.-based Legendary Entertainment (“The Dark Knight,” “Inception”) is looking to hook up with a Beijing-based film company to try to enter the China market. It’s speculated that they’re trying to get around the strict quota on foreign films shown on the Mainland. That said, their new venture is going to be based in HK — and our films are restricted, too. So that move might not help them.

As for as China is concerned Hong Kong is “foreign” when it comes to media or movies.

June 10, 2011 @ 3:39 pm | Comment

“16 years of painstaking editing.” Sweet Jesus. That’s one editing job I wouldn’t want.

June 10, 2011 @ 3:40 pm | Comment

The best part for me is that they’re exporting this nonsense for foreign distribution. Cannot wait until one of these gems rolls into the local multiplex. The only thing better than a CCP propaganda film is a CCP propaganda film with subtitles.

June 11, 2011 @ 2:02 am | Comment

Hope nobody gets any naughty ideas from watching this crap- founding a party nowadays is grounds for a lengthy prison term!
I’ve been amazed at the relatively star-studded lineup they pulled together for “Founding of THE Party” (a more accurate translation than “Founding of A Party,” in my opinion). Andy Lau, Chow Yun-Fat, etc. as a bunch of soulless gongfei?
Of course, they need the star power- otherwise, who’s going to pay to go see another movie with some washed-up asshole dressed up as Mao spouting pseudo-deep BS as he single-handedly saves China?
I wonder if anybody will even bother to pirate this?

June 11, 2011 @ 2:14 am | Comment

I wouldn’t go see these movies for free. However, people having a simplistic black and white view of CCP are idiots. CCP grew to the sole power in China from nothing and still holds the power is not by chance. There are great leaders in CCP and many of them are true patriots. It is just they bought into the wrong ideology.

June 11, 2011 @ 2:52 am | Comment

Chiiiiiiina! F**k YEAH!

Gonna save the world with the CCP yeah!

June 11, 2011 @ 5:41 am | Comment

CNLIST, I’ve acknowledged many times the fact there are many CCPs, and it is anything but monolithic, some sections being very good, others less so. It’s just too bad they feel they have to produce nearly 30 movies telling their people and the world how splendid they are. I really can’t imagine such a thing in any other nation except maybe Qaddafi’s Libya and other one-man dictatorships.

Rhan, I never said anyone was forced to watch CCTV. I wrote, Can you imagine being forced…. Get the difference?

June 11, 2011 @ 5:59 am | Comment

A pity that Leni Riefenstahl is no longer among us….

She could accomplish quite viewable propaganda films, even from the most totalitarian regimes.

June 11, 2011 @ 6:54 am | Comment

Been waiting for a LR reference. China already has had its Truimph of the Will moment. Games 08.

June 11, 2011 @ 7:33 am | Comment

I think rather Olympia

June 11, 2011 @ 8:02 am | Comment

They don’t really need to worry about that now that securing the box office is a “political mission”.Just like the Shanghai world expo,back then they aimed the total number of visitor at 70 million in order to surpass the Japan world expo and made it a “political mission”.To be honest the ticket price and the cost of time and money for a journey to Shanghai is somewhat prohibitive to most Chinese people.But since it’s a “political mission”,it HAVE to be done.So they began to send free tickets to Shanghai natives and organized government officers all around China to visit the expo.And the cost was taken directly from the state coffer.In the end, the mission was accomplished and everybody is happy.
Figures.

June 11, 2011 @ 4:38 pm | Comment

Will the Chinese people really flock to see these movies?
Thirty years ago, yes, because they had only eight “model operas” to watch. Today when people have more choices, there is still one way to make a lot of people go: at the entrance each is given a coke and a large bag of popcorn, and told he/she will have a red envelop if staying to the end of the movie.

June 11, 2011 @ 4:42 pm | Comment

Readthru, I’m sure that various public sector workers and students will be “encouraged” to go.

June 11, 2011 @ 5:31 pm | Comment

Raj, Public sector workers and students may be “encouraged” but still need incentives. When Chinese students abroad are organized to welcome visiting leaders, they usually get money or other benefits from embassies or consulates. With the exchequer at its disposal, CCP “Got the Money Anyway” and spends billions a year on propaganda.

June 11, 2011 @ 9:34 pm | Comment

“Rhan, I never said anyone was forced to watch CCTV. I wrote, Can you imagine being forced…. Get the difference?”

@Richard… yes I can imagine:

http://chinadailyshow.com/trapped-family-forced-to-watch-cctv-9-for-nine-hours-set-world-record/

June 13, 2011 @ 1:52 pm | Comment

Richard,
Today’s China is a modern continuation of its imperial past. This type of indoctrination is an old trick that was used by past emperors. When there is no opposition, the rulers do what ever fits their agenda. When I said CCP had great leaders, I was referring to the first generation CCP leaders. Today’s leaders were picked by CCP inner circle partly because they were the ones who swore to preserve CCP’s power. It is sad China in fact is still stuck in its dark past.

June 14, 2011 @ 6:27 am | Comment

China Daily Show. Scurrilous overkill. Gone to my favourites.

….peasants congregating uncivily.

Good one, Charles.

June 14, 2011 @ 6:33 am | Comment

“I wrote, Can you imagine being forced…. Get the difference?”

Even if there is difference, i don’t understand why we want to imagine something close to wild guess and illusion.

“Today when people have more choices, there is still one way to make a lot of people go: at the entrance each is given a coke and a large bag of popcorn, and told he/she will have a red envelop if staying to the end of the movie.”

Another imagination? But at lease you acknowledge the fact that people have more choices.

June 14, 2011 @ 1:24 pm | Comment

The Shang Shu (尚書)is said to be a classical example of how Confucian officials rewrote the past, to vilify past dynasties and to glorify those in power at the time. Marcel Pagnol once said something similar about French history books, but a culture of faking the past and the present tense works best in a place where you kick at people once they are on the floor, rather than attacking them while they stand.
(As the KMT isn’t completely on the floor yet, and as a branch of it has served in Beijing’s “United Front” ever since the 1950s, it’s getting a somewhat better treatment than it would if it had long seized to exist.)

The fake approach can be pretty crude, just as it seems to be when hotel managers re-write the very recent past: We have never spoken to the Beards and we are not even hotel.

And if that China Daily Show story, including the info about a previous record held by Ellis MacBain, is invented, its author, too, must be familiar with with chronicling history that way – and he may well be the actual record-holder of watching CCTV-9 without interruption.

June 14, 2011 @ 2:22 pm | Comment

Rhan, of course people have choices. I’m not sure where you’re coming from. These films aren’t compulsory viewing.

June 14, 2011 @ 10:09 pm | Comment

Maybe these patriotic movies will fill up the hole left by all those time-travel / fantasy flicks SARFT just banned. (Just kidding)

June 15, 2011 @ 12:22 am | Comment

Where Rhan is coming from… I can’t help but feel that he or she is embarrassed by this glorious movie about the glorious party, but also does not want to criticize this glorious effort, likely out of some sort of sympathies. Hence, he or she wants to point out that there are other options in Chinese movie theaters. Like the dozen or so movies officially imported every year- Iron Man, anyone? Or a lot of domestic productions about the Sino-Japanese War- be sure to reserve tickets in advance!

June 15, 2011 @ 2:08 am | Comment

PS- In response to the question:
“Will the Chinese people really flock to see these movies?”
Ran responded:
-Yes, as long as the hundreds celebrities from China, Taiwan and HK were ‘being forded’ to have a role in this movie.
I can comment with a certain degree of certainty that the majority of people (or the majority of people with whom I have spoken) find the money wasted on this film and its stars disgusting, particularly in light of the much better social causes toward which these funds could be directed at the moment. The stars played a bunch of commie a-holes out of political pressures, but that doesn’t mean people will go buy tickets based on the same unspoken pressures.
People here are generally quite gullible towards propaganda, I will admit, but “The FOunding of THE Party” is such BS that even residents of China, weened on CCTV and other such massive hunks of BS, seem to consider it a disgusting joke. One can only hope that they won’t have the chance to waste such resources on a film 10 years from now! Or even 5 years from now.

June 15, 2011 @ 2:17 am | Comment

To rhan:
Richard asked a simple rhetorical question. Even if you choose to take it literally, the answer to “can you imagine…” need only be “yes” or “no”. Delving into ‘why would you want to imagine…’ is very much beside the point.

June 15, 2011 @ 7:50 am | Comment

SKC,

“…..beside the point”

This is exactly my point, why raised a rhetorical question when 1) there is choices, 2) the ticket price remain out of touch with the general poor, 3) most Chinese know this part of history well (1911 to 1951), 4) the topic of discussion is mostly on whether the star did well / appropriate selected on that particular historical character, 5) most are not interested to criticize bese on propaganda perspective as everyone know and 6) most Chinese familiar, love and respect the scholar, intellectual and those involved / take part in the revolt of this part of history.

I am not into preciseness of word and language, I state my viewpoint when I see the assertion lack objectivity. A more relevant question is why most of the celebrities in the movie are not Chinese national, a question you often ask.

June 15, 2011 @ 10:12 pm | Comment

Rhan, you have made a giant mountain over a tiny molehill. It’s like on holidays in the US where they show old episodes of The Twilight Zone all day and someone says, Can you imagine being forced to watch 24 hours of The Twilight Zone”? Obviously no one’s really forcing anyone to watch it. They’re simply saying, 24 hours! How can anyone sit there and watch the show for 24 hours?” But it’s kind of silly even to be discussing this tiresome non-issue.

June 16, 2011 @ 12:11 am | Comment

To Rhan,
can you imagine that someone would choose to focus on a rhetorical question and miss the forest for the trees?

Answer: YES, I can, since you’ve just demonstrated it for all to see. A rhetorical question is a literary device. “Why raise (it)”, you ask? Simply because Richard chose to employ said device in this case. A rhetorical question is not meant to be taken literally.

At no point did Richard suggest that people didn’t have a choice. There is no suggestion that ticket prices are within reach of the masses, or not within reach of the masses. Indeed, this is Chinese history with which most viewers (ie the ones who choose to go see it) are familiar. So one wonders if there is any cinematic or narrative breakthrough that will be on offer…until one realizes, as you deftly point out, that this is propaganda and everyone knows it. So this is all just a waste of money and time…or in CCP parlance, money well spent.

I realize linguistic precision is not really your thing. It is mine. Allow me to show you how it’s done:
“Can you imagine being forced to watch 60 hours of CCTV?”
— hell no.

See, not that complicated when you put your mind to it.

June 16, 2011 @ 3:23 am | Comment

SKC, thanks, i think i get what you trying to tell.

June 16, 2011 @ 9:59 am | Comment

News today admitted that not many people went to see “The Founding of THE Party” yesterday, but attributed this to the fact that it was a weekday.
However, a cinema owner in the report stated with feigned excitement that the entire weekend was booked by a number of danwei (work units) who were hosting viewings for their employees. I am going to do my part this weekend by going to see “Kung-Fu Panda 2″ instead.

June 16, 2011 @ 11:17 am | Comment

Membership in a danwei clearly has its privileges. What better way for an employee to spend their weekend.

SPOILER ALERT***SPOILER ALERT

I didn’t realize Panda 2 was part of the propaganda package. The CCP have got it goin’ on with their 3D cinematography. But I guess I can see how the symbolism works…bad white peacock…with his fancy metal cannons…ultimately going down in defeat. Heck, if all propaganda flicks were like Panda 2, they’d be considerably more palatable.

June 16, 2011 @ 1:26 pm | Comment

A comment from Tianya after watching the propaganda movie JianDangWeiYe: It seems there are changes, to rehabilitate Hu Shih (帮胡适平反).

Can we call this fail propaganda?

June 18, 2011 @ 11:13 am | Comment

[...] already wrote about the 28 movies commissioned by the Chinese government to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the CCP, a date that [...]

June 26, 2011 @ 12:36 am | Pingback

It is among 28 movies promoted by the State Administration of Radio Film and Television SARFT to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the CPC the Xinhua News Agency reported..According to Huang Jianxin the films director the movie has a cast consisting of 178 celebrities from the mainland Taiwan and Hong Kong and will go on wide release on Wednesday..The movie will also be available on IMAX..The movie is one of the films promoted by the SARFT for the Partys anniversary..Tong Gang director of the SARFT said at a promotion event on Tuesday that SARFT had selected 28 movies for recommendation and added that these movies serve as a report that the Chinese movie industry has submitted to the CPC and the Chinese people according to Xinhua on Wednesday..The 28 movies include a profile of Qian Xuesen CPC member and pioneer of Chinese missile and space projects a movie depicting the rebuilding of the quake-hit Beichuan in Sichuan Province and a movie about the development of the J-10 fighter jet..Tong asked the distributors to be highly aware of the films political and social responsibilities when showing the movies..However they also must achieve a total box office value of no less than 1 billion yuan 154.4 million the report said..In 2009 to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China Jian Guo Da Ye The Founding of a Republic a movie charting the history of the nation with similar production to Chinese Communist Party collected 419 million yuan at the box office..Han Sanping director of both films said on the premiere that Beginning of the Great Revival is even more exciting than The Founding of a Republic..A director surnamed Lu from the Film Administration Department of the SARFT told the Global Times that these movies have been in the works since January 2010..We have planned and selected movies that can best reflect the history the achievements and the outstanding members of the Party Lu said..Han also revealed that the movie will be shown in over 10 foreign countries including the US Canada Australia South Korea and Singapore and added that the global version finished editing on Wednesday according to a report by chinafilm.com…

July 1, 2011 @ 6:47 am | Comment

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