Rethinking Transnational Chinese Cinemas
The Amoy-Dialect Film Industry in Cold War Asia
Routledge – 2011 – 172 pages
The Amoy-dialect film industry emerged in the 1950s, producing cheap, b-grade films in Hong Kong for direct export to the theatres of Manila Chinatown, southern Taiwan and Singapore. Films made in Amoy dialect - a dialect of Chinese - reflected a particular period in the history of the Chinese diaspora, and have been little studied due to their ambiguous place within the wider realm of Chinese and East Asian film history. This book represents the first full length, critical study of the origin, significant rise and rapid decline of the Amoy-dialect film industry.
Rather than examining the industry for its own sake, however, this book focuses on its broader cultural, political and economic significance in the region. It questions many of the assumptions currently made about the ‘recentness’ of transnationalism in Chinese cultural production, particularly when addressing Chinese cinema in the Cold War years, as well as the prominence given to ‘the nation’ and ‘transnationalism’ in studies of Chinese cinemas and of the Chinese Diaspora. By examining a cinema that did not fit many of the scholarly models of ‘transnationalism’, that was not grounded in any particular national tradition of filmmaking and that was largely unconcerned with ‘nation-building’ in post-war Southeast Asia, this book challenges the ways in which the history of Chinese cinemas has been studied in the recent past.
"Jeremy Taylor has written a delightful book about the Hokkien-language cinema industry during the 1950s and early 1960s… Taylor has searched extraordinarily widely to obtain relevant material. In addition to reading extensively in the scholarly literature, he has conducted interviews, obtained much information from a broad variety of newspapers and trade journals, and visited and mined many archives. The very readable text has 17 photographs illustrating many of the book’s themes… For those interested in Overseas Chinese, Taiwan or Chinese cinema, this book is a gem!" - J. Bruce Jacobs, Monash University; The China Journal, No. 67
"Jeremy E. Taylor’s Rethinking Transnational Chinese Cinemas: The Amoy-Dialect Film Industry in Cold War Asia is the first English-language research monograph on the Amoy-dialect film industry. But as its title suggests, Taylor also aims to challenge the assumptions that have led people to overlook the ‘third leg’ of Chinese-language cinema (along with Mandarin and Cantonese cinema), and make his study of relevance to anyone interested in Chinese transborder cultures."- Chris Berry, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
"In this well-documented and groundbreaking study of Chinese dialect cinema, Taylor introduces to the readers an understudied Chinese film genre—"Amoydialect film" (Xiayupian ???)—that remains part of the collective memory for those ethnic Chinese moviegoers who grew up in the cities of Southeast Asia in the 1950s and 1960s. This book goes far beyond reconstructing the historical past of this body of Chinese dialect movies. As promised in the title, the author seeks to participate in the academic debates concerning "Chinese transnational cinema" that began in the late 1990s, and to historicize issues of the geography of Chinese film production in Cold War Asia." - Yung Sai-shing, National University of Singapore, Asian Ethnology
1. Rethinking Transnationalism 2. Defining Amoy-Dialect Cinema 3. Origins and Development 4. The Shaping of a Cinema 5. The ‘New Amoy-Dialect Films’ 6. A Cold-War Industry 7. The End of Amoy-Dialect Cinema
Jeremy E. Taylor is a lecturer in Chinese Studies at the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield, UK.