The Lianhua Film Company became the leading progressive studio of the 1930s. Symphony of Lianhua is a rarely seen showcase of short films by eight directors, many of whom later worked in Hong Kong. Cai Chusheng’s Five Little Brothers is an early cinematic exploration of children’s lives and Zhu Shilin’s contribution is one of the first Chinese horror films. Other films range from comedy to social realism. Fei Mu’s evocation of a young girl’s dreams parallels German Expressionist explorations and is his only surviving short film — only four of his films are still in existence, although he made almost 20. Fei Mu went on to direct Springtime in a Small Town, a masterpiece of psychological cinema considered one of the greatest Chinese films of all time, then moved to Hong Kong in 1949. In Si-Tu Huimin’s Two Mao, a portrait of the disparity between rich and poor in Shanghai, Jiang Qing (later, Mao’s wife) plays a small part. She later had the film withdrawn from circulation as she did not wish people to know she had acted in Shanghai before the war. —The 5th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art
Born in Shanghai to Cantonese parents, but raised in Chaoyang, Shantou, Guangdong, Cai Chusheng worked in low-level positions in several small studios during the 1920s, before eventually joining Mingxing Film Company as a director’s assistant to Zheng Zhengqiu, another Chaoyang-native. Cai later joined the Lianhua Film Company where he directed a handful of mainstream popular films including Spring in the South and Pink Dream (both 1932). He would not cement his reputation as a leading leftist filmmaker until after the Japanese attack in 1932, when Cai, like many of his colleagues, shifted towards increasingly progressive or leftist filmmaking. This shift can be seen in output after 1932, including the class-struggle dramas Dawn Over the Metropolis (1933), Song of the Fishermen (1934), and the proto-feminist New Women (1934), which starred Ruan Lingyu. Song of the Fishermen, for example, was a major box office success in Shanghai where it played for 87 days, and… read more
Born in Shanghai, China, Fei Mu is considered by many to be one of the major film directors prior to the Communist takeover in 1949. Known for his artistic style and costume dramas, Fei made his first film, 1933’s Night in the City (produced by the Lianhua Film Company), at the young age of 27, and he was met with both critical and popular acclaim (the film, unfortunately, is now lost). Continuing to make films with Lianhua, Fei directed films throughout the 1930s and became a major talent in the industry, with films like 1936’s Blood on Wolf Mountain (often seen as an allegory on the war with Japan) and 1935’s Song of China, a glorification of traditional values that was part of the New Life Movement. Later, Song of China became one of the few films that had a limited release in the United States.
Fei’s legacy as one of China’s greatest directors was sealed with his 1948 influential masterpiece Spring in a Small Town about a love triangle in post-war China (it was later remade… read more
Sun Yu was born on March 21, 1900 in Chongqing (Chungking), Sichuan province, to an intellectual family which valued education highly. Sun’s father, who had been a successful scholar at the provincial level during the Qing (Manchu) dynasty, was a historical researcher who traveled around China, and as a boy Sun Yu often went along, which added considerably to the future filmmaker’s experience and knowledge. The family later moved to Shanghai, where Sun Yu saw his first movie in a theater.
After graduating from middle school, Sun Yu passed the entrance exams for admission to Qinghua University, where movies and poetry became his twin passions. In his third year, he entered a film reviewing competition and won the grand prize. Among the judges in the competition were future Chinese film directors Zhu Shilin and Fei Mu, while the chair of the panel was Luo Mingyou, who as the head of the Lianhua (United Photoplay Service) Film Company would one day rewrite the history of Chinese… read more
Zhu Shilin (27 July 1899 – 5 January 1967) was a Chinese film director, born in Taicang, Jiangsu, China. Zhu began his career in the thriving film industry of Shanghai, directing actresses like Ruan Lingyu with the Lianhua Film Company. After the war, Zhu moved to Hong Kong, where he founded the Longma Film Company along with fellow Shanghai emigrant Fei Mu.
Between 1930 and 1964, he directed 80 films. Two of his films, Sorrows of the Forbidden City (1948) and Festival Moon (1953) were ranked in the Hong Kong Film Awards’ Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures. —Wikipedia