Wu Tianming

b. 1939
Film director, producer, actor
One of the most important figures in Chinese film industry in the 1980s, Wu Tianming entered the Xi’an Film Studio as an actor in 1960. Wu studied in the Department of Film Directing at the Beijing Film Academy from 1974 to 1976. He was elected as the Director of the Xi’an Film Studio in 1983. Wu recruited new graduates from the Beijing Film Academy and elsewhere and, under his tutelage, the Xi’an Film Studio became the most successful and respected film studio in China. Xi’an Studio produced blockbuster commercial films which subsidized the avant-garde (experimental) filmmaking of the ‘Fifth Generation’. The film-makers at the Xi’an Studio also formulated a new film genre—the ‘Chinese Western’—which succeeded both commercially and aesthetically.
Wu Tianming is himself an accomplished actor and filmmaker.
His early films, Reverberations of Life (Shenghuo de chanyin, 1979) and River Without Buoys (Meiyou hangbiao de heliu, 1983), focused on the devastation of the Cultural Revolution. His most successful films of the mid 1980s, like Life (Rensheng, 1984) and Old Well (Laojing, 1987), established his international reputation. The latter has become a contemporary film classic in Chinese film history. Wu left China after the 1989 Tiananmen Event and lived in the United States for seven years, working as a visiting scholar and artist at New York University, the University of California at Davis, and the University of Southern California. In 1996, he returned to China and directed the internationally acclaimed King of Masks (Bianlian). He now lives and works in Beijing.
Luo, Xueying (1989). ‘Wu Tianming’s Rise to Fame’. Chinese Literature 3:188–95.
Wang, Yuejin (1988). ‘The Old Well: A Womb or Tomb? The Double Perspective in Wu Tianming’s Old Well\Framework 35:73–82.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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