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Once Upon a Time in Beijing

Once Upon a Time in Beijing


Dates: 13 Jan 2024–3 Mar 2024
Language: Multiple
M+ Cinema ‘Once Upon a Time in Beijing’ Trailer
M+ Cinema ‘Once Upon a Time in Beijing’ Trailer

About the Programme

Beijing has long been a space for cinematic imagination. As the capital city and a site of cultural and historical significance, Beijing is an enduring synecdoche for an eternal and ever-evolving China and its people. This screening programme explores the city’s many facets, past and present, as they were portrayed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when young graduates from the Beijing Film Academy and those from overseas found Beijing as a nexus of inspiration for grand epics and personal stories. This selection presents Beijing as both the narrative and filming location for some of the most memorable character studies of the era and a prism reflecting a transitioning Chinese society as presented onscreen to the world.

Featuring iconic blockbusters, such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor (1987), Chen Kaige’s Farewell to My Concubine (1992), and David Cronenberg’s M. Butterfly (1993), and more independently produced films, such as Ning Ying’s For Fun (1992), A Film by Zhang Yuan (1993), and Mi Jiashan’s The Troubleshooters (1989), this screening programme was conceived in dialogue with Madame Song: Pioneering Art and Fashion in China, which traces the little-known histories of Song Huai-Kuei, one of the most remarkable figures who facilitated cultural exchange between China and her extensive international network.