Following a series of celebrity scandals, Chinese officials told young filmmakers entering China’s top film schools that their main task was to build the “moral cultivation” necessary to further China’s rise in the world.
The Beijing Film Academy, the country’s top filmmaker talent, last week opened a brand new campus in the capital’s northern Huayiru district, an hour’s walk from the urban center. At an outdoor opening ceremony, more than a thousand new students sat in rows of social distance to listen to speeches by local government officials, administrators and notable alumni.
The school, which celebrated a la0th anniversary last year with a splash party, has earned a decent reputation for selecting and honoring some of China’s leading directors, acting and craft talents. Past alumni include Zhang Yimu, Chen Kaige, Xia Zhangke, Huang Xiaoming, Zhou Donggu, Zhao Wei, and I Weiwei.
The overall message that hit home again and again was clear: work hard, give up excess and viral success, seek “moral farming” and consider yourself an “artist” to pursue the country’s development in line with President Xi Jinping’s philosophy.
“Students, you are lucky because you have taken the time for an unprecedented opportunity in the historical development of our nation,” said Hu Zhifeng, vice president and deputy secretary of the Beijing Film Academy, in his keynote address. “You should be proud of this new era, and consciously and confidently bear the historical responsibility for the great renaissance of the Chinese nation,” using a central phrase in Xi’s to signal China’s return to the status of its great power.
Hu added that he hoped the students could harness their youth and become “the first generation of our strong country” to reassure the party “with the knowledge that cultural production and related politics are moving in the right direction.
China is among its most dramatic crackdowns that officials still call an overly “chaotic” fan culture.
In the past month, some of China’s top celebrities have completely derailed their successful careers in astronomy. The first was pop icon Chris Woo, who was arrested on suspicion of rape in mid-August. Then, there was TV darling Zheng Shuang, fined $ 46 million for tax evasion. A few days later, Zhao Wei, one of the country’s most recognizable names, his name and past works were completely removed from the Chinese web without warning or explanation.
Hu said the incidents provided an “extremely strong warning”.
“Even if you get countless fans for a while and your fan club is full, there’s no way to grow uninterrupted in the long run … [without] Constantly building our own morals and character, ”he said. “I hope you’ll be honored by the world instead of going down morally, looking amazingly great for a while before being thrown aside.”
He urged students to become “bright stars” of humble qualities instead of burning “shooting stars” and to avoid creating “ridiculous, low-quality work” which he said is currently dealing with the industry.
The Beijing Film Academy was established in 1950 at the beginning of the People’s Republic, and the only public film institution of higher education directly by the party and the state, the speakers reminded the students.
The China Youth Daily said its new Huairo outpost would “better serve the party’s needs and the country’s strategy to become a strong cultural force.”
Students will be assisted on a new campus six times larger than the academy’s old stumping ground in the Heidian district of central Beijing. It boasts eight movies and five sound stages ranging from cine00 square meters to 1,000 square meters.
China has recently banned the use of popular and interesting lists and indexes to rank celebrities. Hu criticized that these lists have led to the widespread use of plastic surgery, calling the stars involved in such procedures “isolated from life” and only able to create “cookie-cutter, empty and annoying tasks”.
He called on the performers to abide by the party’s “Law of Artistic Aesthetics” and to be a messenger of beauty that rejoices, resonates and evokes emotions, but also a movement for artificiality … [and] A pale, weak beauty. “
Alum and “Nirvana in Fire” actor Leo Wu summed up the essence of the party message in his own speech.
“Does our school train celebrities? I don’t think so, ”he said. “I think our school train is rooted in the film crew’s public.”