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Kaige Chen

by Thom Bennett

Filmmaker Chen Kaige is one of the forerunners of what is largely known as the new wave of Chinese cinema which puts emphasis on the visual aspects of film. The films of the Chinese new wave often contain strong political elements, which have drawn almost constant objection and censorship from the Chinese government.

In 1983, Chen made his first feature film "Yellow Earth". The film tells the tale of a soldier who travels to a small village and convinces a bride-to-be to run away with him. This beautifully photographed film is notable for its cinematography by eventual revolutionary director Zhang Yimou.

Chen Kaige gained worldwide attention in 1993 with his film "Farewell My Concubine". The film follows the relationship between two opera actors in Beijing over the course of fifty years. Set against the backdrop of Chinese revolution, "Farewell My Concubine" shared the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival with Jane Campion's "The Piano". The film was praised throughout the world and turned the eyes of the cinema world toward the Chinese new wave.

Other films by Chen Kaige include "The Big Parade" (1985), "King of Children" (1988), "On a String" (1991) and the hauntingly beautiful "Temptress Moon" (1996). His most recent film, "The Assassination of the First Emperor Chin" is showing at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

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