In the Mix: The Early Sixth Generation Cinema
This chapter analyzes the stylistic features of the early Sixth Generation cinema. As the pioneers of the second art wave, the core members of the narrowly defined Sixth Generation directors started independent production in the early 1990s. Although their privileged BFA lineage and confrontational stance toward the authorities largely overshadowed their aesthetic innovations, their first films had already manifested early signs of realist and expressionist styles. The two pioneering independent works—Zhang Yuan’s Beijing Bastards (1993) and Wang Xiaoshuai’s The Days (1993)—display realist and expressionist tendencies, respectively. Zhang Yuan’s Mama (1990) and Lou Ye’s Suzhou River (2000) blend the two tendencies to fascinating effect. Overall, these films paved the way for the appearance of more radical stylistic positions of aesthetic realist and expressionist films in the field.
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