Every cinema in China must schedule and actively promote at least two screenings of propaganda films per week beginning this week until the end of the year, Chinese authorities have declared, announcing the first batch of eligible titles Friday.
Theaters that are part of the National Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas or the “People’s Cinema” circuit — a group of more than 5,000 venues with special halls dedicated to propaganda films or that employ specific strategies like subsidies to promote such content — must screen propaganda films at least five times a week.
The directive is just one of a number of stipulations issued last week by China’s National Film Administration and powerful Propaganda Department about how the country’s film and entertainment industries should participate in efforts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party’s founding, which hits this July 1.
In an official statement, National Film Administration called on “film authorities in every province, region and municipality, every film and cinema company and every production firm” to screen and promote “outstanding films” that celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party starting April 1.
Such works are “closely focused on the themes of loving the party, loving the nation and loving socialism,” and “sing the praises of … and eulogize the Party, the motherland, its people and its heroes.”
Authorities announced the first batch of 12 films to be screened throughout April on Friday, which includes eight historic films, three films from the last five years, and one new release. They are, in chronological order: “Fighting North and South (1952),” “Railway Guerrilla (1956),” “Battle on Shangganling Mountain (1956),” “The Red Detachment of Women (1960),” “Red Sun (1963),” “Zhang Ga the Soldier Boy (1963),” “Heroic Sons and Daughters (1964),” “The Nanchang Uprising (1981),” “Hundred Regiments Offensive (2015),” “Battle of Xiangjiang River (2016),” “The Sacrifice (2020),” and new release “Landmine Warfare.”
Through these mandated screenings, Chinese film entities should first and foremost seek to promote Xi Jinping Thought, the president’s eponymous ideology, and create the “grand, warm and festive atmosphere” necessary for feting the party’s anniversary, the National Film Administration statement said.
It hammered home the seriousness of this mission, stating that all film entities must “attach great importance [to the screenings], execute them in earnestness… painstakingly organize them and ensure tangible results.”
Cinemas must guarantee not only that these films are programmed but that their screenings are well-attended.
The new directive calls on all distribution firms, cinemas and departments involved in screening activities to promote the films via preferential scheduling slots, “preferential ticket prices and other methods.” Local authorities should also “broadly organize and mobilize party members, cadres and viewers to actively participate” in screenings so as to “enhance their social impact.”
Meanwhile, at a press conference last week held for the Party’s Central Committee, a top governing body, National Film Administration director and leading Propaganda Department official Wang Xiaohui laid out further plans for how entertainment should fit into party propaganda efforts this year.
Among a list of eight important steps that will be taken to celebrate the anniversary, including a grand gathering featuring a speech from Xi, three action items were directed at China’s culture industries.
First, large-scale exhibitions and theatrical performances detailing the “great achievements and valuable experience” of the Party must be planned this year, with party officials and members invited to attend.
The country must also “create and promote a batch of exemplary literary and artistic works of great ideological and artistic standing” to do the same, spanning from plays, music, dance, film and TV series to publications.
Film in particular will play a key role in a broader nationwide campaign to push “mass propaganda and education” on the theme of “following the Party forever,” as well as China’s attempts to build up its military.
An official recap of the Central Committee presser noted that major general Li Jun of China’s Central Military Commission had specifically praised upcoming military-themed films such as famed Fifth Generation helmer Chen Kaige’s “Battle of Chosin Reservoir,” “Kung Fu Yoga” director Xu Zhanxiong’s “Revoluationary,” and “Island Guardians” — a take on the real-life story of a couple who defended China’s territorial claims by living on an isolated island for decades. These films will “build a strong atmosphere of ‘listening to the Party’s command and striving to strengthen the army,’” he affirmed.
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