What did China look like in the 1920s and 1930s? Silent films in black and white made by Edinburgh University students allow you a fascinating glimpse of that bygone world.
Students who take the course “Chinese Silent Cinema, 1922-1935” (Course Organizer: Huang Xuelei) form groups and make their own 20-minute films modelled on the thematics and aesthetics of silent-era Chinese films. During the course, students view and discuss 15 rare, silent-era, full length Chinese feature films. This viewing experience allows important themes in modern Chinese history to be addressed in the films produced by the student teams. These themes include modernity, urban transformation, gender, migration, consumerism, marriage and family, class, sexuality and nationalism. Distinctive aesthetic and narrative modes of Chinese silent-era cinema, including melodramatic representation, piano music and jazz, as well as fade-in and fade-out, are also employed in the student-made films.
As a conclusion to this class, all student films are shown at a mock Oscar event known as the “Golden Chopsticks Film Gala.” Judges made up of faculty members and experts determine Golden Chopsticks winners in ten categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actress in a Lead Role, Best Actor in a Lead Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Music, Best Set Design, and Best Poster.
This course is truly interdisciplinary and unique in that it involves historical research, cultural studies, and actual filmmaking.