Li Shaobai


Li Shaobai
b. 1931, Taihe, Anhui
Film historian, theorist
Li started work in film distribution in Chongqing in 1950, after a year in the PLA. He published his first film criticism in 1951 and moved to the publicity department of the Film Distribution Corporation in Beijing in 1954. In 1957 he joined the research section of the China Filmmakers’ Association. Li began work in 1958, with Cheng Jihua and Xing Zuwen, on the History of the Development of Chinese Film (Zhongguo dianying fazhan shi). Published in 1963 as a two-volume study of film in China before 1949, the book was the object of Cultural Revolution criticism. Li was assigned to the China Art Research Institute (Zhongguo yishu yanjiuyuan) in 1973, where he took charge of the establishment of a specialist film institute and a film department in the graduate programme.
He remained at the institute in Beijing until his retirement. His articles appeared in Film Art (Dianying yishu) and Contemporary Film (Dangdai dianying). Li’s books include Film History and Theory (Dianying lishi yu lilun, 1991) and Filmic Explorations: Film History and Theory (Yingxin tanze: dianying lishi yu lilun, 2000), both of which collect his articles from journals and elsewhere. His writings on theory tended to evince a Marxist orthodoxy. In his historical studies on films of the 1930s, however, a more concrete and careful analysis of contemporary materials informed his conclusions. This work in particular influenced younger generations of film researchers, many of whom he supervised at the China Art Research Institute.
Semsel, George (1999). ‘Cheng Jihua and Li Shaobai, Pioneers in Chinese Film Studies: Interview II’. Asian Cinema 10.2 (Spring/ Summer):90–5.
PAUL CLARK

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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