You are here

Video: Media and Culture in Contemporary China

A two-day conference featuring Chinese producer Zhang Jizhong, sponsored by the UCLA-USC Joint East Asian Studies Center, examined the globalization of China's entertainment industry and the popular culture in contemporary China.

January 10, 2012

The first UCLA-USC joint Media and Culture in Contemporary Conference featured one of China’s most acclaimed directors and producers, Zhang Jizhong.  Scholars and industry professionals in film and media studies gathered on both UCLA and USC campuses on October 21 and October 22 for the two-day conference that explored the globalization of the China entertainment industry and the impact of television and film on public perception of history and culture in China.  The two-conference was moderated by Martin Kaplan, the founding director of USC’s Norman Lear Center.
Zhang Jizhong served as the keynote speaker of the conference and spoke on his personal experiences and challenges with Chinese media.  In an interview with US-China Institute’s Asia Pacific Arts, Zhang talked about his various inspirations for his productions and his current film with Hollywood on the Monkey King.

The two-day conference featured multiple conference panels that examined the state of the film and television in contemporary China; the recreation of history and classic literature through film; and the globalization of theme parks.  The second day of the conference was a question-and-answer session with Zhang on developing the Monkey King theme park, which is expected to be completed in the next three to five years.

Conference planners are UCLA Asia Institute Director R. Bin Wong; UCLA history professor Andrea S. Goldman; UCLA Asian Languages and Cultures department chair David Schaberg; USC East Asian Studies Center director Stanley Rosen; and USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center director Martin Kaplan.  Additional support comes from the UCLA Confucius Institute and the UCLA-USC Joint East Asian Studies Center, with funds from the US Department of Education Title VI program.  Other partners include the History Department, the Humanities Division, and the International Institute at UCLA and the USC US-China Institute.

The conference is sponsored by the USC-UCLA Joint East Asian Studies Center, with funds from the U.S. Department of Education. Other sponsors include the Confucius Institute, the History Department, the Humanities Division, and the International Institute at UCLA and the USC US-China Institute. The USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center is another partner.

Session 1: The State of the Film & Television Industry in Contemporary China: The View from the Academy

Chair: Stanley Rosen, Political Science, USC

Michael Berry, East Asian Languages & Cultures, UCSB, China's Hollywoods: Global Chinese Cinema in the Postsocialist Era

Aynne Kokas, Asian Languages & Cultures, UCLA, Imaginary Landscapes, Imagined Communities

Sun Shaoyi, Shanghai University/NYU in Shanghai, It's Safe to Laugh Now: The Comic Turn of Contemporary Chinese Cinema

Michael Curtin, Film & Media Studies, UCSB, Big Media, Soft Power: The Possibilities and Perils of State Leadership

Discussant: Robert Rosen, School of Theater, Film & Television, UCLA

Session 2: The State of the Film & Television Industry in Contemporary China: The View from the Industry

Moderator: Martin Kaplan, Director, Norman Lear Center, USC Annenberg School

Mike Medavoy, chairman and CEO, Phoenix Pictures, and co-founder of Orion Pictures

William M. Mechanic, president and CEO of Pandemonium Films, and former chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment

Janet Yang, president of Manifest Films, and former president of production of Oliver Stone’s Ixtlan Productions

Teddy Zee, president, Teddy Zee Productions, and former senior production executive at Paramount and Columbia

Peter Shiao, founder and CEO, Orb Media Group

Session 3: Recreating Chinese History and Classic Literature in Film & Television

Chair: Andrea S. Goldman, History, UCLA

Jonathan Chris Hamm, Asian Languages & Cultures, University of Washington, From the Boxers to Kung Fu Panda: The Chinese Martial Arts in Global Entertainment

Zhu Ying, Media Studies, College of Staten Island, CUNY, From Anticorruption to Officialdom: The Transformation of Chinese Dynasty TV Drama

Rong Cai, Asian Languages & Cultures, Emory, Memory of Politics and Politics of Memory: Restaging Revolution on Contemporary Chinese Television

Matthias Niedenführ, Director, European Centre for Chinese Studies, Revising and Televising the Past: Portrayal of Historical Leader Figures in Chinese TV Dramas

Discussant: Robert Chi, Asian Languages & Cultures, UCLA

Session 4: Globalization of Theme Parks: the View from the Industry

Moderator: R. Bin Wong, History & Director, Asia Institute

Zhang Jizhong, TV & film producer; Monkey King theme park creator;

Bob Weis, Executive Vice President, Walt Disney Imagineering;

Brent Young, Principle & Creative Director, Super 78 Studios.;

Shi Zhang, Assoc. Professor, UCLA Anderson School of Management;

Thomas E. McLain, Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP and Chairman of the Asia Society of Southern California

Session 5: Theme Parks in China: the View from the Academy

Chair: David C. Kang, Interim Director, East Asian Studies Center

Hai Ren, East Asian Languages, University of Arizona, "Leisure as an Event of Self-Formation at a Chinese Theme Park";

Susan Brownell, Anthropology, University of Missouri-St. Louis, "World Expo Shanghai 2010: Why it wasn't a media event, but still drew 70 million spectators"; Sun Shaojing, School of Journalism, Fudan University, "Experiencing cultures: Chinese visitors' encounter with nation-brands at Shanghai Expo."

Discussant: Yunxiang Yan, Anthropology & Director, Center for Chinese Studies, UCLA