Ying Ning – China

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “My films are deeply concerned with this life in which I also live. I can deeply sense how terrible it is for a collective to be without memory. I record the human condition of life in turbulence.”

Ying Ning - China redim 50p.jpg
Ying Ning – China

Ning Ying is a well-known film director born in Beijing. She has so far made five feature films and numerous documentaries. The “Beijing Trilogy” is well known for depicting disappearing traditional ways of life, the difficulty of coping with the new changes, and the anxieties of the new generation. Ning has also depicted urgent social issues and imbalanced development in China, such as HIV/Aids, trafficking of women, and street children. Ning Ying is a well-known film director. She was born in the 1950s, her parents were Beijing intellectuals. At the age of 22, in 1978, she was admitted as the first cohort of students to the Beijing Film Academy when university entrance examinations were resumed after the Cultural Revolution. Her classmates were some of the filmmakers now renowned as the “fifth generation” of Chinese filmmakers.

After studying for three years in the Beijing Film Academy, Ning Ying was among the first group of students sent abroad on public funds to study in Italy. In 1987, she graduated from the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. Her training included working as assistant director for Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1987 film, “The Last Emperor”. The next year, she returned to China to independently start her creative work. In 1992, Ning Ying directed “For Fun,” a film which recounts the daily life of retired people in Beijing. This film received several major international awards, one being the 1993 Tokyo Gold – The Governor of Tokyo Award.

Ning Ying has so far made five feature films and numerous documentaries. In 1995, “On the Beat”, a film about the police, again won some major international awards. In 2000, she made “I Love Beijing” which looks at the drastic transformations of the city from the perspective of a taxi driver. These three films are known as the “Beijing Trilogy.” Ning Ying said, “I first set out to explore Beijing in 1992 with ‘For Fun,’ a comedy about disappearing traditional ways of life. In 1995, with the black-humored ‘On the Beat,’ I focused on the emerging new reality and the difficulty of coping with it. In ‘I Love Beijing,’ the magnitude of changes shaping our lives and the anxieties of the new generation are represented in a rhapsody form, through the eyes of a young, restless taxi driver.”

Growing up during the Cultural Revolution in her teenage and youth, being educated abroad and then witnessing the social changes under the Reform policy, Ning Ying has maintained her deep concern for the underprivileged and the lower strata of society. With a shrewd and quiet observation, the Beijing Trilogy records the urban social transformations that span the 1990s and the way the lives of ordinary folk are squeezed, rewritten and exploited by such transformations.

Ning Ying has also been actively involved with third world documentaries sponsored by international organizations such as UNESCO and UNICEF. Her films depict urgent social issues and imbalanced development in China, such as HIV/AIDS, trafficking of women, and street children. In 2001, Ning Ying made a documentary, “Railroad of Hope,” following hundreds of agricultural workers from Sichuang Province to Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China’s northwest frontier, on a journey of more than 3,000 km. She spent three days and nights in a crowded train interviewing the peasants who were taking up jobs far from their home villages, hoping for a better future. “Railroad of Hope” was awarded the Grand Prix du Cinema du Reel in Paris in 2002. The award citation calls the film “outstanding for the power of its images, its full and deeply penetrating vision …. a film that sweeps us up into stories and energies of life, over and beyond the simple duration of this journey toward hope. (Read all on 1000peacewomen).

Review of ‘On the Beat’: Perpetual Motion/Ning Ying/China/2005; ON THE BEAT is a subtly subversive portrayal of the Beijing city of the 1990s, a desolate landscape of imposing skyscrapers sprouting out of stretches of improverished houses. Ning Ying likes to capture the collective with long shots, but when the camera enters into private space, faces become distinguishable-homes liberate individuals from their social oneness. Ironically though, home is also an accomplice of the state machine; it is here that parents help to mould their children into “befitting” parts of the society.

FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW, The Lot of Beijing’s Finest Is Not Happy or Heroic, By JANET MASLIN: The policemen seen in Ning Ying’s “On the Beat” are charged, quite literally, with keeping Beijing from going to the dogs.

This film is the first in a completed trilogy by director Ning Ying, that aims to portray the lives of Beijing’s “lao bai xing” (ordinary people) before the city is completely modernized. (The other two films are, “On the Beat” and “I Love Beijing”).

Film Review, Railroad of Hope: Every year during August and September, several thousand agricultural workers leave Sichuan by train for a long trip of more than 3,000 km, lasting three days and two nights, towards China’s far west: Xinjiang Autonomous Region, where endless cotton fields are awaiting the harvest. For most of the workers it’s the first time away from their native villages, as well as their first time on a train. The aim of Railroad of Hope was to cast a light on the relatively new phenomenon of internal migrations in China, and on the flood of workers who travel mainly by railway. The result is a documentary in which, probably for the first time ever, we can listen to Chinese peasants from poor interior regions speaking openly and sincerely about their lives.


Woman with a Movie Camera;


Perpetual Motion/Ning Ying/China/2005;

The films of Ning Ying at the HFA.

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