When you think of popular Chinese films, one's first thoughts are probably of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, but the history of China's film industry has far more depth than a bit of kung fu fighting, and dates much further back in time.
China got its first taste of the cinema in 1896, when the Lumière brothers arrived on tour. The first Chinese film then followed nine years later in 1905. This pre-dates their first movie theatre that opened in 1907 in Beijing. Seemingly doing things a bit backwards yet again, it was not until 1909 that the first Chinese film studio was founded in 1909. But is the date of their first full length feature that the BFI want to celebrate, and that was in 1913.
A Century of Chinese Cinema is a five-month festival exploring three areas of the Chinese film industry. The Golden Age looks at Shanghai during the 1930s. It was an era when old-age taboos were shattered, and progressive ideals were introduced. The thirties also saw new narrative structures and visual techniques.
A New China looks at the influences of the Chinese Communist Party after its victory in 1949, while Swordsmen, Gangsters, Ghosts explores the evolution of genre cinema from the 1960s to present day.
Tickets are between £8.15 - £10.50, and there are multiple screenings of the films.