Cinema Asia is a five-part documentary series that takes the viewer into the most dynamic film scene on the planet.
Asia houses some of the world’s biggest film industries - India boasts that it is the Number One film producing country in the world, while China, at Number Three is nipping closely at Hollywood’s heels. Taiwan, Korea and Iran have film industries that are smaller, but no less vibrant. Punching far above their weight, these national cinemas have taken their place on the international stage.
Long trapped within their own national boundaries, these national cinemas have in recent years burst onto international screens. They have even taken the charts Number One slot in the home of cinema itself - Hollywood.
Cinema Asia offers the viewer a rich mix of clips from some of the most important films produced in recent years. Interviews with their makers provide a unique window not only on the world of film-making, but on the cultures that have made them.
In an age of incessant and irresistible globalization these programmes show how national cinemas fight against the Hollywoodization of global cinema.
Episode listing -
China is now the world’s third-largest producer of cinema films. Since the Ground Zero of the Cultural Revolution, when film-making virtually ceased in China, the Chinese cinema industry has come storming back. Emerging from the darkness of the Cultural Revolution, art-house films such as Yellow Earth and Red Sorghum introduced the world to a new kind of cinema. Realising the box office potential of Chinese exotica, films such as Raise the Red Lantern and Farewell, My Concubine established that Chinese films could work in the mainstream as well. And recent Chinese blockbusters like Hero and House of Flying Daggers beat Hollywood at its own game and fill cinemas around the world.
Today, a new generation of Chinese filmmakers is making a new kind of film. Frequently banned in China, these filmmakers dodge the censors to get at the true heart of China.
Since the late 1990s, South Korea's film industry has undergone an amazing transformation. A new generation of Korean filmmakers has revitalized the industry and their movies have made a powerful impact worldwide.
In fact, they have been doing so well that the Korean Film industry is attracting more international interest than ever before.
Iran proves that success can be had without giving into the Hollywood style of high-tech special effects and money-driven productions. The programme looks, too, at the struggle that film-makers have to produce a film in a conservative society.
The Islamic Revolution of 1979 not only threw the Shah and his American supporters out of Iran, it also turned the vibrant local cinema scene on its head. Filmmakers had to learn how to make films in a strictly Islamic environment. How they met the challenge of making films with chador-clad leading ladies and prohibitions on filming within the puritanical strictures of Islam is revealed. Iran proves that success can be had without giving into the Hollywood style of high-tech special effects and money-driven productions.
We see how India’s traditional culture has influenced its themes and where Bollywood’s music and dance passion originate.
We meet with director Chopra, the father of Bollywood, visit the Mandir Theatre, where only one film has shown for the past ten years and get the first of the new trends of Bollywood films.
Once a major producer of Asia’s films, Taiwan is now struggling with the increasing competition from its neighbours. In the face of increasing sophistication of mainland Chinese films can Taiwanese films continue to exist as a separate entity? Or will mainland, Taiwanese and Hong Kong cinemas grow together into a super pan-Chinese cinema that rules the world?