A Taste Of You by Sara Bell

By Sara Bell

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19 Made outside the state studio system, Zhang’s film was illegal by default and thus destined to be banned in China. When the film was invited to the out-of-competition section of the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, the Chinese authorities tried to block its participation. When this failed, China withdrew its official entry, Zhang Yimou’s Keep Cool (You hua haohao shuo, 1996)—an ironic title in these circumstances. Then, also in retaliation, Zhang Yuan’s passport was confiscated to prevent him from attending the festival.

In so doing, this book in fact ushers in “a new utopian imaginary” (Ong and Nonini 1997, 330) in its quest to illuminate our understanding of homosexuality in its irreducible multiplicity through cinematic representations 16 Introduction that become sites of analysis drawing together textual elements with historical contexts, theoretical frameworks, and political debates. Representation, therefore, is a central issue linking the chapters that study the celluloid comrades. To begin with the historical, chapter 1, “Screening Homosexuality,” argues that the representation of male homosexuality in Chinese cinemas has been engendered by the marginal and interstitial spaces created by the disjunctive order of globalization.

20 Up until the 1990s, tongxinglian and tongxing’ai remained the most commonly used Chinese discursive terms for homosexuality. 21 The popular use of the original meaning of the term tongzhi can be traced to a quote by Sun Yat-sen (1866–1925), the founding father of Republican China, whose dying words were, “The revolution has yet to triumph; comrades still must work hard” (Geming shang wei chenggong; tongzhi reng xu nuli). Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the term became the most common form of political address in the country.

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