China Through Films

With the semester winding down, and my time at UNC Asheville coming to a close, I thought it might be fun to tell you a bit about some of the classes I am taking this semester, as well as some of those that I have taken over the past few years.  One of my favorite classes at UNC Asheville is called China Through Films, and although it is only two semesters "old," is extremely popular among students of all departments.  I chose the class because it counts towards my Asian Studies minor, and also because I am interested in learning more about Chinese cinema.  Prior to taking this course, I had seen few Chinese movies; in fact, the only one that I can remember clearly (because my family has seen it many times) is The Road Home, directed by Zhang Yimou, known for To Live, House of Flying Daggers, and Not One Less.  

Because I have a rather limited knowledge of Chinese film, I began the course (Monday nights, 6 pm) unsure of what to expect.  Luckily, our professor provided articles for us to read or assigned essays from a book on Chinese cinema, all of which contributed in some way to my understanding of either the film we were watching or the genre in which it was categorized.  At the beginning of the semester, I was also unsure of myself as a student in a film class.  As it was my first time taking a film class, I did not know how to look at a film objectively, how to describe the composition of various shots, or even how to discuss filming techniques.  I hoped that the technical language of the course would not be too difficult for me to comprehend, and luckily, our professor has worked hard to ensure that the course is easily accessible to people like me.  On the first day of class, she spent time going over these various techniques and providing examples throughout the various stages of Chinese cinema to illustrate each.

The course itself is divided into three units to focus on mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.  We have been able to witness a variety of genres from each, and each film has moved chronologically to the present, allowing us to experience the evolution of Chinese film.  We meet only once a week.  During this time, we watch a movie and in the remaining time, participate in student-led discussions.  These discussions allow us to share our thoughts on each film with the rest of the class, ask questions, and draw comparisons between movies.  Although they are led by groups of two or three students, our professor does take time to interject where possible to provide her opinion or some information crucial to our understanding of the movie or theme which we are discussing.  This format, although one which I am not entirely comfortable (I prefer lectures to group discussion), has allowed me to consider the subject matter of the films we watch on deeper levels, and to understand them in new ways.  

I have enjoyed every film we have watched so far, but if I had to choose my favorite films, they would be In the Mood for Love, Kung Fu Hustle, Not One Less, and Running out of Time. I highly recommend watching each one, and if you're thinking about coming to UNC Asheville, signing up for the course.  

PS: This is the blog's 100th post.  Thank you to everyone who's been reading!  


  • Anonymous says:
    April 7, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    This doesn't relate to this post, but rather a general question. I hope this is an ok place to ask this question, but how do you feel about the social life on campus? Does it seem there are social students or do people seem spread out and the campus a little too laid back? Thanks!

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