Film Authorship as Place Making
The introduction advances a theoretical framework for interpreting how New Chinese Cinema auteurs shoot on-location as a mode of “place making,” the experiencing and imaging of rural shooting locations as places. Drawing from poststructural cultural geography, production culture studies, environmental psychology, and critical tourism studies, I demonstrate how production environments are more than blank canvases, but places where cultural meanings are being continually contested. As cultural elites, auteurs make coherent disorienting social changes by engaging in production as lived experiences of nation building, homecoming, and cultural salvage. The rural is thus a stage for auteurs to perform their aspirations for social activism, while location shooting constitutes an embodied and performative practice through which auteurs make meaningful sense of their ever-shifting and often precarious roles of authorship. Consequently, images and representations of the rural in the resulting films cannot simply be classified as signifying one cultural logic or another. Rather, they bear traces of the institutional politics, social tensions, and geopolitical ambivalences negotiated by auteurs during production, thus confounding distinctions between the ideologically complicit and subversive, a reductive binary too often mobilized by scholars when periodizing Chinese and Taiwanese film histories.
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