Feng Xiaogang

Feng Xiaogang
b. 1959, Beijing
Film and television director/writer
Feng Xiaogang is presently the most successful commercial filmmaker in China. His comedies generate impressive profits at the box office. Feng learned filmmaking not through film school but in the production side of television. His early television series, such as Stories from an Editorial Office (1991) and Beijingers in New York (1992), won popular acclaim: the former as a social-political satire and the latter as a look at immigrant experience in the United States. After these directorial debuts, Feng attempted further social commentary in Chicken Feathers on the Ground (1994) and The Dark Side of the Moon (1997). Unfortunately, these television shows and other scheduled projects were either censored or banned.
Caught between official censorship and commercial necessity, after 1997 Feng turned his camera from social critique to urban comedies that found favour with city dwellers. These films focus on ordinary characters with extraordinary desires; comic structure or black humour drives the narratives. For instance, Party A, Party B (Jiafang yifang, 1997) shows how a three business partners create a variety of situations in which viewers can identify their own fantasies of pleasure and success. Be There or Be Square (Bujian busan, 1998) presents two Beijing natives pursuing their dream of America in Los Angeles. Sigh (Yisheng tanxi, 2000), a tragic comedy that deals with an extramarital affair, exposes sexual relationships in contemporary urban China.
Feng’s desire to make films that will be popular in both China and foreign markets led to his transnational project, Big Shot’s Funeral (Dawan’r, 2002). A satirical comedy backed by Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia and featuring Chinese screen-star Ge You along with American actor Donald Sutherland, the film attempted to cross cultural and language barriers, but with questionable success.
See also: Shi Kang
Keane, Michael (2001). ‘By the Way, FUCK YOU! Feng Xiaogang’s Disturbing Television Dramas’. Continuum 15.1:57–66.
Keane, Michael and Tao, Dongfeng (1999). ‘Interview with Feng Xiaogang’. positions: east asia cultures critique 7.1:193–200.
Liu, Lydia H. (1999). ‘Beijing Sojourners in New York: Postsocialism and the Question of Ideology in Global Media Culture’. positions: east asia cultures critique 7.3:763–96.
Wang, Shujen (2003). ‘Big Shot’s Funeral: China, Sony, and the WTO’. Asian Cinema 14.2 (Fall/ Winter): 145–54.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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