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The Authorship of PlaceA Cultural Geography of the New Chinese Cinemas$
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Dennis Lo

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9789888528516

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888528516.001.0001

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Translocalities of Sadness

Translocalities of Sadness

Touring Inauthentic Geographies with Hou Xiaoxian and Jia Zhangke

Chapter:
(p.145) 6 Translocalities of Sadness
Source:
The Authorship of Place
Author(s):

Dennis Lo

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789888528516.003.0007

This chapter explores how Hou Xiaoxian and Jia Zhangke have responded critically and reflexively to the commoditization and neoliberal redevelopment of place by challenging their own notions of authenticity and realism in two iconic shooting locations: Jiufen and Chongqing. By the production of Goodbye South, Goodbye (1996), Jiufen has transformed into what Urry calls a “tourist place,” a nostalgia themed space where film-induced tourism has all but overwhelmed the historical aura so cherished by Hou. I argue that the film’s disruptions of Hou’s realist style are reflexive responses to his own sense of complicity in transforming Jiufen into a tourist place. Operating like an alienation effect, moments of spectacular excess expose how the spectator’s perception of Jiufen is far from natural, but mediated through images popularized by Hou’s own films. Whereas Hou seems unable to experience Jiufen outside the dichotomy of authenticity and inauthenticity, Jia makes meaningful sense of his hometown's neoliberal redevelopment through a critical lens shaped, surprisingly, by none other than Hou's cinema. It is with this translocal, cinephilic, and reflexive framework of place making that Jia Zhangke re-imagines the decimated landscapes of Chongqing in Still Life (2006). Rather than simply lament the disappearance of authenticity, the film carefully observes the place making practices of China's "floating population," who must depend on their resourcefulness to navigate a geography of ecological ruin. Importantly, these unexpected modes of agency show Jia's departure from the authoritative, detached, and privileged modes of place making institutionalized by Fifth Generation auteurs.

Keywords:   Cross-strait cinema, Jiufen, Chongqing, Tourist place, Goodbye South, Goodbye, Still Life, Translocality, Film-induced tourism, Cinephilia, Floating population

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