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Introduction: Shanghai Filmmaking: Border-crossing Practices

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Chapter Summary

This introductory chapter explores the cultural field of early Shanghai filmmaking, which can be envisioned as a garden of forking paths. As a part of the global cultural field, Shanghai filmmaking involved a series of border-crossing practices. The book brings to light the forking paths of this garden, and shows how historical agents involved in Shanghai filmmaking crossed ideological, medial, and geographical borders, which are, more often than not, artificial. The book focuses on three aspects of the films: characteristics of the medium, narrative mode(s), and meanings. It maps out the meanings conveyed in Mingxing films. A thorough reading of the screenplays and synopses of Mingxing films show that themes that fall under three categories recur: domestic and gender issues; labor, class and the ills of society; and revolution and nationalism. The book addresses the question of who sees films, how and why.

Keywords: border-crossing practices; geographical borders; global cultural field; Mingxing films; Shanghai filmmaking



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