China: Ying Ning

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

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 to parents who were Beijing intellectuals. At the age of 22 she joined the Beijing Film Academy where her classmates were some of the “fifth generation” of Chinese film makers. She later studied in Italy at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, becoming assistant director on Bertolucci’s 1987 film, “The Last Emperor.” Ning Ying returning to China the following year, and has since made five feature films and numerous documentaries. She says, “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.” Ning Ying has a deep concern for the underprivileged in the lower strata of society. She records urban social transformations of the 1990s and the way the lives of ordinary folk are squeezed, rewritten and exploited by such transformations. She is also actively involved in documentaries covering the Third World. She depicts urgent social issues, imbalanced development in China, HIV/Aids, the trafficking of women, and street children. In 2001 Ning Ying made a documentary called “Railroad of Hope,” which relates a journey of over 3000 kilometers that she made with hundreds of agricultural workers, during which she interviewed peasants who were taking up jobs away from their homes in anticipation of a better future. “Railroad of Hope” was awarded the Grand Prix du Cinema du Réel (acute accent on first e) in Paris in 2002. The award citation calls the film “outstanding for the power of its images, its full and deeply penetrating vision."