Cinemas screens patriotic movies to whip up nationalistic fervor

China is reeling out a string of patriotic films as the Communist Party prepares to celebrate 70 years in power amid challenges to its authority from the unrest in Hong Kong and an economy weakened by the trade war.
At least three movies featuring the accomplishments of ordinary Chinese opened in mainland theaters yesterday, the eve of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
“My People, My Country,” directed by seven of China’s best-known filmmakers, is a collection of stories of citizens in proud moments of the nation’s history. “The Climbers” chronicles the first Chinese team that scaled Mount Everest in 1960, and “The Captain” is the story of pilots who used their skills to save a passenger aircraft from disaster.
While China has historically used movies to instill ideology and patriotism, the goal of the latest releases is to reinforce nationalism, Chinese pride and aid President Xi Jinping’s drive to bring the party, and the country, in line. The campaign comes at a time when Beijing is looking for ways to resolve Hong Kong’s protests, as well as shore up economic growth.
“Definitely there’s an importance, and they are definitely going to push” these movies, said Sean Tierney, a Hong Kong-based film critic. The three movies are “too red to fail” at China’s box office, he said.
Months of protests, triggered by a controversial extradition bill, have turned into the biggest crisis for Beijing’s rule over the former British colony since it returned to China in 1997. The rallies against the now-withdrawn legislation have gradually morphed into a pro-democracy, anti-Beijing movement, with universal suffrage among the key protester demands.
Highlighting the link between the Communist Party and its use of movies to further its ideology, an official at the then-State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television told industry representatives in December 2017 that movies should serve the purpose of “promoting the prosperity of socialist culture and realizing the Chinese dream” as defined by Xi’s thought.
Several patriotic movies have seen commercial success.
In 2017, “Wolf Warrior 2” — a movie about a renegade officer in China’s special operations force who single-handedly rescues hundreds of Chinese nationals from a war-torn country in Africa — racked up about USD800 million in ticket sales, making it the country’s top grossing film ever. “Operation Red Sea,” out the following year about a military squad saving compatriots from terrorist attacks in a fictitious Arab country, was the fifth-highest. Bloomberg

Categories China