Jia Zhangke Speaks Out

The Chinese Director's Texts on Film

by Jia Zhangke

Jia Zhangke Speaks Out is a collection of writings by China’s most acclaimed film director, Jia Zhangke. The book, originally published in 2009 by Peking University Press, contains Jia’s selections of his own writings on film. While he has given numerous film-specific interviews throughout the years, his own notes on cinema, on his own production, and on Chinese culture are unknown to non-Chinese readers. This collection gives access to the key scenes of his life, films, and meetings with other filmmakers, from Hou Hsiao-hsien to Martin Scorsese. From his point of view, we get an insightful and profoundly original take on China’s film history, its ruptures and failings, as well as on the post-Tiananmen filmmaking industry, with its blockbusters on one side and indie films (like his) on the other.

About the Author 

Jia Zhangke is a leading “Sixth Generation” cinema director in China.  Among the many awards his films have won are Best Screenplay at Cannes for A Touch of Sin, the Golden Lion at Venice for Still Life,  the Dragons and Tigers award at Vancouver for Xiao Wu,  and numerous Critics Awards.   The French Film Directors Guild  announced the presentation of its Carrosse d'Or award during the 2015 Cannes Festival with these words:  "We are captivated by the boldness of your body of works.  Your ability to capture the constant changes in Chinese society... your commitment to younger generations, resonate within each of us.  Your films are visual poems..."


"Films like Platform, The World, and Still Life established Jia Zhangke as the single most important Chinese filmmaker of the past two decades. But besides his remarkable films, Jia has also come to be known in China as an important public intellectual and cultural critic. With Jia Zhangke Speaks Out: The Chinese Director’s Texts on Film, the award-winning filmmaker’s impressive body of writings on contemporary cinema are finally available to English readers. These thoughtful, insightful, and sometimes controversial essays, interviews, and film notes are a must-read for anyone interested in Chinese cinema or the work of this brilliant director."                 
                                       — Michael Berry, author of Jia Zhangke’s Hometown Trilogy   

"Think you know Jia Zhangke because you’ve seen all his movies? Think again. Jia is a public intellectual as well as a film director, at least as well known in China for his insightful essays and online provocations as for his unique cinema. This exciting treasury of translated writings not only gives us Jia’s thoughts on his own films but also on the state of Chinese film culture and so much more. Now you really know Jia."

                                       --- Chris Berry, Professor of Film Studies, Kings College London


"I don’t judge a film by how pretty the lighting is or how intricate the camera movements are.  The most important thing is whether the film expresses the stuff of real life, whether it offers insights into reality."

"What first attracted me to De Sica’s films was his empathy.  It’s the most basic thing – how you approach life.  Just as important is that he showed things in a very cinematic way by structuring the film through images that flow one into another.  From his films, I learned how to find ways within the film medium to discern and express the beauty in very down-to-earth, real-life situations."

"...Bresson attained an even higher degree of refinement.  The year I went to Hong Kong, I saw his Pickpocket for the first time.  I was dumb-struck.  Using what seems like emre sketching, he drew the outlines of a very real material world.  But pulsating in the background of such a world, you can sense that there is something entirely formal, very intelligent – it’s a positioning arising from attention to the small things of ordinary life."