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date: 06 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Founded in 1937, the Manchurian Motion Picture Association (Manying) produced hundreds of films to propagate the ideology of the Great East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, most of which were lost in the postwar chaos. This chapter analyzes Manying’s magazines, former employee memoirs, and seven extant films—including wartime interracial romances starring the Japanese-born Li Xianglan, who always played Chinese roles, a musical on the Russian community in Harbin, a comedy about a country bumpkin in the modern capital, a historical costume drama on the Opium War, as well as an animated “educational documentary” on the dangers of lice. Despite Manying’s exclusion from national film historiographies, this chapter shows that it was created as a “national cinema” that was to help a nation-building process, yet its remnant fragments evoked ambivalent and contradictory imaginations of nationhood, serving as an illuminating parable for the aspirations and failures of modern states to engineer identities through cinema.

Keywords: Manchuria, propaganda, Li Xianglan, Sino-Japanese coproductions, musical, comedy, historical costume film, documentary, animation

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