Before They Were Fugitives : Imported Films in the PRC 1978-1993

Activity: Talks or PresentationsOther Invited Talks or Presentations


Though valuable scholarship on film distribution in Mainland China has grown, the history of import circulation between 1978 and 1993 remains critically under examined. As the PRC began its gradual shift towards a market-based film industry, imports were a source of both political suspicion and economic attraction. Over these sixteen-years, distribution rights to hundreds of films from dozens of countries were purchased by the China Film Export & Import Corporation (CFEIC) on flat fee bases, and they traveled across the nation via mobile projection units and in urban cinemas during an era of peak movie attendance. Several imports released via this system enjoyed enormous and enduring popularity, and I echo Jie Li’s argument that it is time to give the history of “cinema in China” a meaningful position within histories of Chinese cinema.

In this talk, I highlight patterns and partnerships in CFEIC distribution between 1978-1993 with particular focus on collaboration between Chinese film industry leadership and Japan’s Tokuma Group, France’s Adel Productions studios, and the American actress Deborah Raffin. By examining these connections, I argue we can see China building key import distribution priorities that continue to the present and that the CFEIC’s engagement with foreign media producers coincide with larger trends in late-20th century media globalization that have previously been ignored in scholarship on Chinese film history.
Period13 Mar 2022
Event titleMedia and Creative Industries in East Asia : A joint webinar series
Event typeSeminar
OrganisersCentre for Film and Creative Industries, Nanyang Technological University