Zhang Jizhong

Undoubtedly one of the most influential film personalities in China, Zhang Jizhong is perhaps China’s most well known TV series producer and a recognizable entertainment celebrity in China. Over the past three decades, Zhang Jizhong has several commercially successful, critically acclaimed credits to his name as a producer, which have grossed over RMB1 billion worldwide. 

With his unique understanding of Chinese culture, works produced by Zhang Jizhong stand out for their epic story-telling structure, large-scale battle scenes, martial arts, romance, and artistic elements. His trademark production formula represents both cultural transmission and strong financial returns. This formula’s success has made Zhang Jizhong one of the most sought after producers in China.

Zhang Jizhong was born in Beijing, China in 1951 and endured many hardships in his early life because of his family’s political status. In 1978, he joined the Shanxi drama theatre group and become a stage actor. He later moved on to acting in movies and TV series before becoming a full-time producer.

Zhang Jizhong’s first major production, China Central Television’s (CCTV) award winning historical epic, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, made him the most sought after TV producer in China because of his ability to recreate historical war scenes with large scale sets and thousands of extras. Romance of the Three Kingdoms was followed by Water Margin in 1997, another large scale adaptation of one of the Four Great Classical Novels of China. The series was very successful commercially and a recipient of critical acclaim.

Over the past ten years, Zhang Jizhong has produced several big budget TV series adaptations of Louis Cha’s wuxia novels, which have attained commercial success in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and other Asian countries. His wuxia TV productions are also known for launching the careers of several top Chinese film stars, including Liu Yifei, Huang Xiaoming, Hu Jun and Zhou Xun.

Zhang Jizhong has built eleven large scale movie cities in China, which were funded by the local government and later became tourist attractions, which developed the local economy from the benefits of tourism revenue and infrastructure, as well as saved millions of dollars of production costs. The Peach Flower Island Arching film city in Zhejiang and the Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils film city in Yunnan province are two examples of success stories, and are now major tourist destinations in China.

Michael Berry

Professor, East Asian Languages & Cultures, UCSB
Michael Berry is Professor of Contemporary Chinese Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers (Columbia, 2005), A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and Film (Columbia, 2008), Jia Zhangke’s The Hometown Trilogy (British Film Institute & Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and the forthcoming book Memories of Shadows and Light: In Dialogue with the Cinematic World of Hou Hsiao-hsien (INK, 2011). He is also the translator of several novels, including The Song of Everlasting Sorrow (with Susan Chan Egan) (Columbia, 2008), To Live (Anchor, 2004), Nanjing 1937: A Love Story (Columbia, 2002, Anchor, 2004, Faber & Faber, 2004), and Wild Kids: Two Novels about Growing Up (Columbia, 2000). His work has been recognized by an NEA Translation Grant (2008), an Honorable Mention for the MLA Louis Roth Translation Prize (2009), and he has served as a Jury Member for Golden Horse Film Festival (2010).

Susan Brownell

Professor, Anthropology, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Susan Brownell received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1990.  She is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Languages at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  An internationally recognized expert on Chinese sports, she has done fieldwork in China, primarily in Beijing.  Her research interests are sports and body culture.  In 2007-08 she was a Fulbright Senior Researcher at the Beijing Sport University, doing research on the Beijing Olympic Games.  At UMSL, she teaches Introduction to Cultural Anthropology; Ideas and Explanations in Anthropology; Senior Seminar; History, Theory and Practice of Anthropology; The Body in Culture; and Cultures of East Asia. Professor Brownell is the author of Training the Body for China: Sports in the Moral Order of the People's Republic (University of Chicago Press, 1995) and Beijing’s Games: What the Olympics Mean to China (Rowman and Littlefield, 2008).

Rong Cai

Associate Professor, Asian Languages & Cultures, Emory
Cai Rong is Associate Professor of Chinese Studies in the Department of Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures, Emory University. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature/Chinese from Washington University in St. Louis. Her teaching and research interests include modern and contemporary Chinese literature, culture, cinema, and gender studies. Her major publications include the book The Subject in Crisis in Contemporary Chinese Literature (Hawaii University Press, 2004) and essays in scholarly journals such as Positions, Modern China, Modern Chinese Literature, and Contemporary China. Her current research focuses on the representation of history in contemporary mass media.

Robert Chi

Assistant Professor, Asian Languages & Cultures, UCLA
Robert Chi is currently an Assistant Professor in the UCLA Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature (Harvard University) and has previously taught at SUNY Stony Brook (Stony Brook University) as well as Tunghai University in Taiwan. Professor Chi’s teaching and research focus on Chinese-language cinemas, including those of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.  His recent and ongoing research covers topics such as cinema and public memory, globalization and locality, genres including Chinese opera films and martial arts films, and the cinema of Shaw Brothers. His publications include the following: “Dalu dianying zhong de Taiwan” [Taiwan in mainland Chinese cinema], Zhongwai wenxue [Chung wai literary monthly] (April 2006); “Fotografia, Memoria e Giustizia: La Strage di Nanchino del 1937”, Dopo la Violenza: Costruzioni di Memoria nel Mondo Contemporaneo (Napoli: L’Ancora del Mediterraneo, 2005); “A World of Sadness?”, Trauma and Cinema: Cross-Cultural Explorations, (Hong Kong UP, 2004); “The Red Detachment of Women: Resenting, Regendering, Remembering”, and more.

Michael Curtin

Professor, Film & Media Studies, UCSB
Michael Curtin is the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Professor of Global Media, and Professor of Film and Media Studies.  His books include Redeeming the Wasteland: Television Documentary and Cold War Politics, Playing to the World’s Biggest Audience: The Globalization of Chinese Film and TV, The American Television Industry (co-author), and Reorienting Global Communication: Indian and Chinese Media Beyond Borders (co-editor). He is currently at work on Media Capital: The Cultural Geography of Globalization

Andrea S. Goldman

Assistant Professor, History, UCLA
Andrea S. Goldman received her Ph.D. in Chinese history from the University of California, Berkeley in 2005.  An assistant professor in the Department of History, UCLA, she specializes in the cultural and social history of early modern and modern China, with particular emphasis on the subfields of urban history, performance, the politics of aesthetics, and gender studies.  Her forthcoming book, Opera and the City: The Politics of Culture in Beijing, 1770-1900, uses opera as a lens through which to observe court and city dynamics in Qing dynasty Beijing. Between language classes and library work, Goldman toured Taiwan with a semi-professional xiangsheng (Chinese comedy) troupe; and while conducting her dissertation research in China, after archive hours, she apprenticed with a professional xiangsheng master in Beijing.

John Christopher Hamm

Associate Professor, Asian Languages & Cultures, University of Washington
John Christopher (Chris) Hamm received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and teaches Chinese literature in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington, Seattle. His publications include Paper Swordsmen: Jin Yong and the Modern Chinese Martial Arts Novel (University of Hawai’i Press, 2005). He is currently conducting research on the author Xiang Kairan, Republican-era periodical literature, and the role of the martial arts in Republican literature and culture.

David C. Kang

Director, Korean Studies Institute; Director, East Asian Studies Center; Professor, International Relations, USC
David C. Kang is Professor at the University of Southern California with appointments in both the School of International Relations and the Marshall School of Business. He is also director of the USC Korean Studies Institute. Kang is the author of East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute (Columbia University Press, 2010), China Rising: Peace, Power, and Order in East Asia (Columbia University Press, 2007); Crony Capitalism: Corruption and Development in South Korea and the Philippines (Cambridge University Press, 2002), and Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies (co-authored with Victor Cha) (Columbia University Press, 2003). Kang has published numerous scholarly articles in journals such as International Organization and International Security, as well as opinion pieces in the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and numerous Korean and Chinese newspapers. He has been a visiting professor at Stanford University, Yale University, Seoul National University, Korea University, and the University of Geneva.

Martin Kaplan

Director, Norman Lear Center, USC Annenberg School
Martin Kaplan holds the Norman Lear Chair in Entertainment, Media and Society at the USC Annenberg School, where he was associate dean for ten years. He is the founding director of the school’s Norman Lear Center, whose mission is to study and shape the impact of media and entertainment on society. He worked at Walt Disney Studios for 12 years, where he was first a feature films vice president and then a screenwriter/producer. His movie credits include The Distinguished Gentleman, starring Eddie Murphy, and the film adaptation of Michael Frayn’s Noises Off. A summa cum laude in molecular biology from Harvard College, where he was president of The Harvard Lampoon, he won a First in English as a Marshall Scholar at Cambridge University, and he holds a Ph.D. from Stanford in modern thought and literature. He has been a featured blogger on The Huffington Post since its inception; he is a columnist for the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles; and his commentary appears frequently on radio, TV and in print.

Aynne Kokas

PhD Candidate, Asian Languages & Cultures, UCLA
Aynne Kokas is a PhD candidate in Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA.  Her dissertation examines the international industrial cultures of production that emerge as part of the Sino-U.S. media co-production process.  Ms. Kokas' Chinese film studio fieldwork has been supported by the Fulbright Foundation and the Social Science Research Council.  Prior to arriving at UCLA, she was a Chinese Ministry of Education fellow in the directing department of the Beijing Film Academy.

Thomas E. McLain

President, Asia Society
Thomas McLain is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Arnold & Porter LLP where he specializes in international business transactions, with special emphasis on intellectual property licensing transactions related to the entertainment industry in Asia and the Middle East.  He has a special expertise in large scale location based entertainment projects, the first being Tokyo Disneyland where he represented Oriental Land Corporation.  His next LBE project was representing Universal Studios in its negotiations to build Universal Studios Japan.  Since the Universal project, he has been involved in numerous theme park and other location based entertainment projects in China, India, Korea, Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jordan, Qatar, France and Spain, representing or negotiating against Disney, Universal, MGM, DreamWorks Animation and Paramount. Mr. McLain is a Trustee, a member of the Executive Committee and Co-Chair of the Global Committee of the Asia Society in New York, and he is Chair of the Asia Society Southern California Center.

William M. Mechanic

President and CEO, Pandemonium Films
Through his company, Pandemonium Films, respected industry veteran and independent producer, Bill Mechanic continues to produce high quality films with directors such as Henry Selick (Coraline), Terence Malick, David Fincher, Paul Greengrass and Walter Salles (Dark Water).  He also recently co- produced the 82nd Academy Awards with Adam Shankman. Prior to Pandemonium, Mr. Mechanic was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment for seven years. As Chairman and CEO, he oversaw all operations of the studio including worldwide feature film production, marketing and distribution activities, as well as all worldwide operations for Fox Video, Fox Interactive, Licensing and Merchandising, and Fox Music.

Mike Medavoy

Chairman and CEO, Phoenix Pictures
From agent to studio chief to producer, Mike Medavoy has been involved with over 300 feature films, of which 16 have been nominated and 7 have won Best Picture Oscars®, as well as numerous international film festival awards. As chairman and co-founder of Phoenix Pictures, he has brought to the screen The People vs. Larry Flynt, The Mirror Has Two Faces, U-Turn, Apt Pupil, The Thin Red Line, The 6th Day, Basic, Holes, All the King’s Men, Zodiac, Pathfinder and Miss Potter, among others. Mr. Medavoy has received numerous awards including the 1992 Motion Picture Pioneer of the Year Award, the 1997 Career Achievement Award from UCLA, and the Lifetime Achievement Award (1998) at the Cannes Film Festival. He was awarded the 1999 UCLA Neil H. Jacoby Award, which honors individuals who have made exceptional contributions to humanity.  In 2009, he was given the Honorary Doctorate at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and was named Chevalier of the French Government’s Legion of Honor.

Matthias Niedenführ

Director, European Centre for Chinese Studies
Matthias Niedenfuehr currently is Managing Director of the European Centre for Chinese Studies at Peking University (ECCS), where he also teaches courses in Modern Chinese history and Classical Chinese. From 2003 until 2006, Dr. Niedenfuehr was Research Assistant in the Project Reconstruction of identities and historical revisions in East Asia since the 1980s jointly operated by the Sinology in Erlangen, the Japanology in Leipzig and the Georg-Eckert-Institute of Schoolbook Research in Brunswick. In 2011 he received his PhD from the Sinology of University Erlangen-Nuremberg under the supervision of Michael Lackner with his dissertation Geschichte fern und neu sehen - TV-Serien über historische Führungsfiguren in China (Revising and Televising History - TV Dramas on Leadership Figures of Chinese History]. His research concentrates on representations of National history in TV drama in Greater China and Japan, as well as phenomena of social change and contemporary history in China and institutional economics in East Asia.

Hai Ren

Assistant Professor, East Asian Languages, University of Arizona
Hai Ren teaches East Asian Studies and Anthropology at the University of Arizona. He has published widely on popular culture, media, and political culture. He is the editor of Neo-Liberal Governmentality: Technologies of the Self & Governmental Conduct, which is a special issue of Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge 10 (Spring 2005), and co-editor of New Media Subversion, a special issue of Hyperrhiz: New Media Cultures 7 (Spring 2010) and Global Futures in East Asia (Stanford University Press, 2012). He is also the author of two books: Neoliberalism and Culture in China and Hong Kong: The Countdown of Time (Routledge, 2010) and its sequel The Middle Class in Neoliberal China: Governing Risk, Life-Building, and Themed Spaces (Routledge, 2012). His current research project focuses on new media, the affective economy, and precarious conditions of living in China.

Robert Rosen

Professor, School of Theater, Film & Television, UCLA
Educator, critic, preservationist and former dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, Robert Rosen has spoken at scholarly, public, and professional meetings in more than twenty nations on subjects related to film criticism, media history, and curatorship. He has guided the growth of the UCLA Film & Television Archive from a small study collection to the world’s largest university-based holding of original film and television materials. He has occupied many positions of leadership in the field including: Founding Director of the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute, the Executive Committee of the International Federation of Film Archives, member of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, and Board Member of the Stanford Theater Foundation and the Geffen Playhouse. With Martin Scorsese he was the organizer of the Film Foundation on which he currently serves as the Founding Chair of the Archivists Council. He is currently teaching at UCLA and working on production and publication projects as the Director of the UCLA Narrative Literacy Laboratory.

Stanley Rosen

Professor, Political Science, USC
Stanley Rosen is a professor of political science specializing in Chinese politics. The author or editor of eight books and many articles, he has written on such topics as the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese legal system, public opinion, youth, gender, human rights, and film and the media. He is the co-editor of Chinese Education and Society. His most recent books include Chinese Politics: State, Society and the Market (Routledge, 2010 [co-edited with Peter Hays Gries]) and Art, Politics and Commerce in Chinese Cinema (Hong Kong University Press, 2010 [co-edited with Ying Zhu]). Professor Rosen has escorted eleven delegations to China for the National Committee on US-China Relations and consulted for the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, the United States Information Agency, the Los Angeles Public Defenders Office and a number of private corporations, film companies, law firms and U.S. government agencies.

Peter Shiao

Founder and CEO, Orb Media Group
Peter Shiao is the founder and chief executive officer of Orb Media Group, an entertainment company based in Los Angeles and Beijing that produces, finances and markets entertainment franchises with transformational themes, led by films and on-line games that unite the international and Chinese markets. Formerly, Peter served as CEO of Ironpond, a US and Asia based finance/production company that specializes in Chinese-Hollywood co-productions and managed joint venture projects with the China Film Group and China Film Co-Production Corporation in film finance, digital media and co-productions. Peter also produced films under the Celestial Pictures banner that he co-founded, including RESTLESS – the first-ever official US-China film co-production. In November of 2010, Peter reprised his role as Chairman of the US-China Film Summit and brought together key leaders from both Hollywood and China to strategize on the future of cooperation between the two spheres. He had chaired a similar summit in 1995 in association with China’s SARFT and the US Department of Commerce.

Shaojing Sun

Associate Professor, School of Journalism, Fudan University
Shaojing Sun is associate professor of the School of Journalism at Fudan University, Shanghai.  He received his Ph.D. in media studies. Prior to working at Fudan, he served on the faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Weber State University. His research interest focuses on mediated communication, communication theory, and research methods. His work has appeared in journals across communication, psychology, marketing, among others. 

Sun Shaoyi

Professor, Shanghai University/NYU in Shanghai
Shaoyi Sun is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Shanghai University’s School of Film & TV, Adjunct Professor at NYU Shanghai, Board Member of NETPAC International (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema), and Vice President of the Council of China’s Digital Film & Program Union. He has taught Chinese film, literature, and cultural studies at USC and UC Irvine. He was the NETPAC juror of the 2009 Singapore International Film Festival (Chair), the 2007 Brisbane International Film Festival, and a jury member of the 2008 Shanghai International Film Festival’s International Student Shorts Award and the 2000 Dhaka International Film Festival. Sun is the author of The Matrix of Cinema: Cinematic Space and Cultural Globalism (Fudan University Press, 2010), Lights! Camera! Kai Shi!: In-Depth Interviews with China’s New Generation of Movie Directors (EastBridge, 2008), The Imagined City: Literary, Filmic, and Visual Shanghai, 1927-1937 (Fudan University Press, 2009), and more. He is now working on his second English book featuring some of the leading young Chinese filmmakers who were born after the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Bob Weis

Executive Vice President, Walt Disney Imagineering
Bob Weis is an award-winning creative executive whose talent, imagination, and passion for theme park development, museum exhibit design, master planning, immersive experiences, multi-media, and filmmaking has made him a sought after creative and business leader with a rich portfolio of high-profile projects and successful client partnerships. His work has taken him from Tokyo to Paris to New York to London to Sydney to Shanghai. His international expertise, coupled with a rich entertainment, architectural design, and development background, uniquely equips Bob with an understanding of human instinct as it relates to public places and interconnectivity. Bob currently serves as Executive Vice President, Walt Disney Imagineering, tasked with guiding creation of content for new media, developing innovative interactive theme park attractions, and exploring emerging new technologies and platforms for entertainment and international expansion efforts.  He is head of design for the Disney Shanghai project, which recently won approval from the Chinese Central Government.  In addition, he is leading an extensive expansion of the Disneyland Resort in California.

R. Bin Wong

Director, Asia Institute; Professor, History, USC
R. Bin Wong’s research has examined Chinese patterns of political, economic and social change, especially since eighteenth century, both within Asian regional contexts and compared with European patterns.  Among his books, China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience) also appears in Chinese.  His latest book, co-authored with Jean-Laurent Rosenthal, Before and Beyond Divergence: The Politics of Economic Change in China and Europe will also appear in Chinese and French.  Wong has also written or co-authored more than sixty articles published in Chinese, English, French, German and Japanese.

Yunxiang Yan

Professor, Anthropology; Director, Center for Chinese Studies, UCLA
Yunxiang Yan is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of The Flow of Gifts: Reciprocity and Social Networks in a Chinese Village (1996), Private Life under Socialism: Love, Intimacy, and Family Change in a Chinese Village (2003), and The Individualization of Chinese Society (2009).

Janet Yang

President, Manifest Films
Throughout her career, Janet Yang has distinguished herself by working with some of the most formidable directors and actors in the world, as well as discovering unique, often unheard voices and stories, and bringing them into the mainstream. She has particular interest in bringing these talents to the Asian and Chinese marketplace. She is the founder of The Manifest Film Company, whose productions include Carl Franklin’s High Crimes; The Weight of Water; the critically acclaimed films Zero Effect; and Savior. Other recent films she has produced include Disney High School Musical: China, Gasp, Year of the Fish, and Dark Matter. From 1985 to 1987, she functioned as a link between major Hollywood studios and China. Representing Universal, Paramount, and MGM/UA, Yang brokered the sale of the first American studio movies sold in the Chinese market. Ms. Yang has been named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Hollywood” by the Hollywood Reporter, and has been featured in articles in the NY Times, LA Times, Variety, Harper’s Bazaar, and numerous radio and television shows both here and in Asia.

Brent Young

Principal and Creative Director, Super 78 Studios
Brent Young is the principal and creative director for Super 78, a new media production studio in Los Angeles that has developed and produced award-winning, branded entertainment and educational experiences for the most admired theme parks, attractions and museums around the world including SeaWorld, Universal-Singapore, Busch Gardens, and the Happy Valley Theme Park in Shanghai. An award-winning director and visual effects supervisor, Young has directed hundreds of commercials, video game cinematics, attraction films, live action promos, award shows and theatrical experiences. Super 78’s contemporary, real-world approach has resulted in the creation of digital media and animated content for the movie and broadcast industry, and for celebrated guest experiences like Dora and Diego 4D: Catch That Robot Butterfly (worldwide), Madagascar: A Crate Adventure and Donkey Live! (Universal Studios Singapore), Flight of the Dragon (OCT: Happy Valley Park/Shanghai), Shamu’s Believe (Sea World), Curse of Darkastle (Busch Gardens), and Awards Night (Audubon Insectarium), among others.

Shi Zhang

Associate Professor, Anderson School of Management, UCLA
Professor Shi Zhang is an expert in consumer behavior and marketing strategy. He has done innovative work in the area of using comparison and feature alignability to form strategies for market entry and marketing communications, and in the area of brand naming and positioning in the international market. He is a frequent speaker at professional conferences and seminars and author of articles in leading journals of marketing, consumer behavior and applied psychology. Professor Zhang teaches marketing management (strategy and policy, advertising and communications, and global marketing) in the programs of EMBA, FEMBA and MBA as well as doctoral seminars at UCLA Anderson. He also organizes and teaches in the school’s executive education programs. He has consulted for international companies such as Royal Ahold, Google, Roche, Wrigley’s and China Unicom . Previously, he was on the faculty at Duke University.

Ying Zhu

Professor, Media Studies, College of Staten Island, CUNY
Ying Zhu is Professor of Media Culture and Director of Modern China/East Asian Studies Group at the College of Staten Island, the City University of New York. Her publications have appeared in leading media journals and various edited book volumes in the US, China, and Europe. She is the author of Chinese Cinema during the Era of Reform: the Ingenuity of the System (2003) and Television in Post-Reform China: Serial Drama, Confucian Leadership and Global Television Market (2008); co-editor of TV China (with Chris Berry, 2009), TV Drama in China (with Michael Keane and Ruoyun Bai, 2008), Art, Politics and Commerce in Chinese Cinema (with Stanley Rosen, 2010), and co-producer of a TV documentary, Google Verses China for Dutch National TV. Currently she is finishing up a book on China Central Television and a TV documentary on the revival of Confucius classics among the Chinese youth. She is the recipient of American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship (2007-08) and of the 2006 Fellow of National Endowment for the Humanities.

Jiayun Zhuang

Assistant Professor, Dramatic Art, UNC
Jiayun Zhuang is a performance studies scholar and playwright.  She received her Ph.D. in Theater and Performance Studies in the critical studies program at UCLA's Department of Theater in 2009, and joined the Department of Dramatic Art at UNC-Chapel Hill as an assistant professor.  Her research interests include minzhong theater (people’s theater), performance and urban space, dance-theater, and theories of the body.

  • Media and Culture in Contemporary China
  • UCLA-USC Joint East Asian Studies Center
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • University of Southern California (USC)