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Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2047-7368
  • E-ISSN: 2047-7376



Discussions on Chinese identity in cinema have been usually undertaken by considering Chinese-language films directed by Chinese directors. However, the increasing relevance of transnational practices displacing the signs of Chineseness beyond the nation state has challenged previous theoretical paradigms. Pushing this argument a little further, how can we address Chineseness in non-Chinese films dealing with Chinese-related topics and characters? Two Italian films represent an interesting case in point. Io sono Li/Shun Li and the Poet (2011) by Andrea Segre narrates the friendship between a Chinese bartender and a local fisherman within the close environment of the Venetian Lagoon. L’arrivo di Wang/The Arrival of Wang (2011) by Antonio and Marco Manetti, is a sci-fi movie about an Italian Chinese-language interpreter who is assigned an urgent job: translating a mysterious Chinese-speaking ‘subject’ who turns out to be an extraterrestrial alien. By conducting close-readings of the two films, the article attempts to address multiple questions: what kind of Chineseness is articulated in these films? How is Chinese identity negotiated in the creative process? Is this Chineseness only an other-ized construct, or can it critically provide a relevant description of Chinese identity?


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