A Century of Chinese Cinema

Spring in a Small Town
1948’s Spring in a Small Town, in which a married woman (Wei Wei) meets a former lover. Directed by Fei Mu, it’s often hailed as one of the world’s most sensitive romances.

BFI Southbank launches an ambitious five-month season of Chinese cinema covering almost a century of films, most rarely seen in the West, many gloriously restored.

The classics on display include New Women (1935), with legendary Ruan Lingyu as a young woman who’s constantly thwarted by male-dominated society. It’s on tonight and Monday. On Sunday, catch The Spring River Flows East, known as China’s Gone With the Wind. Made in 1947, it follows a couple separated by the Sino-Japanese war who reunite.

Later in summer, look out for 1948’s Spring in a Small Town, in which a married woman meets a former lover. Directed by Fei Mu, it’s often hailed as one of the world’s most sensitive romances.

Also including work from Hong Kong and Taiwan, the season is a showcase for the surprising number of old films that escaped the Cultural Revolution, and a reminder of the later rise of names like Zhang, Chen Kaige, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-wai and Hou Hsiaohsien — not to mention Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan et al. There’s much more that the West hasn’t seen.

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