Shanghai Filmmaking

Crossing Borders, Connecting to the Globe, 1922-1938


In Shanghai Filmmaking, Huang Xuelei invites readers to go on an intimate, detailed, behind-the-scenes tour of the world of early Chinese cinema. She paints a nuanced picture of the Mingxing Motion Picture Company, the leading Chinese film studio in the 1920s and 1930s, and argues that Shanghai filmmaking involved a series of border-crossing practices.

Shanghai filmmaking developed in a matrix of global cultural production and distribution, and interacted closely with print culture and theatre. People from allegedly antagonistic political groupings worked closely with each other to bring a new form of visual culture and a new body of knowledge to an audience in and outside China. By exploring various border crossings, this book sheds new light on the power of popular cultural production during China’s modern transformation.

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Huang Xuelei, Ph.D. (2009), University of Heidelberg, is Chancellor’s Research Fellow in Chinese Studies at the University of Edinburgh. She has published on Chinese cinema, print culture and the social history of modern China.
“Huang Xuelei invites readers to go on a delightful tour that will familiarize them with the unforgettable personalities and practices responsible for the remarkable Mingxing story. When this special tour is over, readers will know much more about the complex origins of Chinese filmmaking and how these origins help us better understand the complicated world of Chinese filmmaking today.”
Paul G. Pickowicz, University of California, San Diego

"[Huang]'s interdisciplinary approach ultimately adds richness to our understanding of Mingxing, and the historiographical method of multiple strands provides us with a comprehensive and palimpsestic picture. [Huang] argues that melodrama is the social form and the narrative mode favored by all, thereby explaining its dominance in Mingxing production. [Huang], like some scholars of Chinese cinema, has traced the cross-cultural influence of melodrama in, for instance, transnational remakes or adaptation while noting the multiplicity of genres produced by Mingxing."
Xiangyang Cindy Chen, independent scholar, China Review International, Vol. 21, No. 1, 2014.

"Shanghai Filmmaking [is] a key volume in the rapidly expanding library of books on Chinese cinema of the Republican era, and one which will have lasting value for scholars for years to come."
-Chris Berry, The China Quarterly, Volume 221, March 2015, pp 279-280.
Figures, Charts, and Tables
Conventions and Abbreviations


Paul G. Pickowicz

INTRODUCTION: Shanghai Filmmaking: Border-crossing Practices

1. The Business
2. Players in the 1920s: Interconnecting, Mediating
3. Players in the 1930s: Contestation? Collaboration?

4. The Medium: Inside Glocal Mediascapes
5. The Narrative (I): Melodrama as a Social Form
6. The Narrative (II): Melodramas Fit for All
7. The Meaning: Toward a Sentimental Education

EPILOGUE: Toward a Glocal Viewing Public

Appendix I: Filmography
Appendix II: Mingxing Personnel

All interested in modern Chinese cinema, drama, literature, and cultural history.
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