Huang Jianxin

b. 1954, Xi’an
Film director
Huang Jianxin entered film as a scriptwriter after studying Chinese literature at Xi’an’s Northwest University in the 1970s. Associated by age with the so-called ‘Fifth Generation’ directors (see Fifth Generation (film directors)), who received their initial administrative support from the director of the Xi’an Film Studio, Wu Tianming, Huang’s style differed from the others by focusing on contemporary urban settings and situations and by its satirical comedy. The primary concern of Huang’s films is the pervasiveness of bureaucratism and the intrusion of the Party’s paranoid political style into the modern workplace.
Huang’s first and finest film as director, Black Cannon Incident (1985), presented an intellectual anti-hero around whom all of China’s bureaucratic errors could be committed. This became such a popular success with audiences that a rare sequel was filmed the next year (Dislocation, 1986) in which the popularity of this ironic figure was made the theme of the film. In 1988, a distinctly more grim but powerful film was made, Transmigration (a.k.a.Samsara), in which Party corruption was depicted as poisoning an entire post-Mao generation of China’s youth.
Subsequent films reverted to Huang’s satirical style, including Stand Up, Don’t Bend Over (1992), Back to Back, Face to Face (1994), and Signal Left, Turn Right (1995). Huang’s one international success has been the erotic Wooden Man’s Bride (1993), whose formal beauty was poorly matched by its derivative character.
Kaldis, Nicolas (1999). ‘Huang Jianxin’s Cuowei and/as Aesthetic Cognition’. positions: east asia cultures critique 7.2 (Fall): 421–58.
McGrath, Jason (2003). ‘Black Cannon Incident Countering the Counter-espionage Fantasy’. In Chris Berry (ed.), Chinese Films in Focus: 25 New Takes. London: BFI, 8–14.
Pickowicz, Paul (1994). ‘Huang Jianxin and the Notion of Postsocialism’. In Nick Browne, Paul G.Pickowicz, Vivian Sobchack and Esther Yau (eds), New Chinese Cinemas: Forms, Identities, Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 57–87.
JEROME SILBERGELD

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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