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TOWARDS A GLOBAL CINEMA
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The Japan-based Sony Corporation has made the biggest investment in Asian production. Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia — the Hong Kong-based subsidiary of Sony’s Hollywood studio — has produced a number of films, including Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Zhang Yimou’s Not One Less and The Road Home, Tsui Hark’s Time and Tide, Feng Xiaogang’s Big Shot’s Funeral, and Corey Yuen’s So Close. The studios are also becoming important distributors of Asian films. Warner Brothers, for instance, recently picked up a Filipino film for local distribution in the Philippines.

In the United States of America, Disney released the Academy Award-winning Japanese animated film Spirited Away and Miramax regularly distributes Asian arthouse and commercial films in theatres and on home video. When scholars talk about global cinema they usually mean the Hollywood blockbusters that perform well in markets around the world — films like Titanic or Jurassic Park.

But the integration of Hollywood and Asian film industries is producing a different kind of global cinema: films which contain material and stylistic elements from industries on both sides of the Pacific. Hero, China’s official submission for this year's foreign language Academy Award, is one example of this new global cinema. Zhang Yimou, a mainland filmmaker who has disavowed any desire to work in Hollywood, wrote and directed this Mandarin-language martial arts film using actors and high-end technical talent from Hong Kong.

Miramax supplied a portion of its huge (by Chinese standards) budget of $ 30 million, and the producers consciously aimed the film at mass audiences in Asia and the US. It may no longer make sense to try to categorize a film like Hero in national terms.

Which criteria should determine its identity' The citizenship or ethnicity of its talent' The source of its financing' The location of its production' Its language' Its audience' Its visual style, themes, or story' Today, the notion of a distinctly American or Chinese or Indian cinema is breaking down, as film industries around the world become increasingly integrated with one another in ways that make them simultaneously more global and more local.

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