The China Policy Christmas and New Year of the Sheep present for all our friends and supporters: a fabulous slide show of modern Chinese cinema with links to the movies. Our selection brings another dimension to your China insight and, if not quite carefree, offers a more relaxed way to keep you on your China toes.

In the late 1960s and 70s, red ballets and operas dominated the Chinese screen. Mao died in 1976:a new age of cinema emerged with the founding of the Beijing Film Academy in 1978. Expressing new confidence in both historical and contemporary themes, young film-makers like Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige brought Chinese film to a global audience with masterpieces such as Red Sorghum (1987) and Farewell my Concubine (1993). Martin Scorsese named Tian Zhuangzhuang’s The Horse Thief (1986) as his favourite film of the 1990s (when it was released in the US). But many of these films encountered stigma at home.

Growing commercialisation and globalisation since the 1980s and 90s have driven Chinese cinema to explore new modes of both cinematography and moneymaking, leading to exploratory films at home in Western arthouse cinemas, and entertaining movies that have drawn huge crowds in China.

In this modest selection, we set the scene with a film that shaped the vision of China’s 21st century filmmakers. Tian Zhuangzhuang’s restrained criticism of 1950s and 60s state policies in The Blue Kite (1992) led to his blacklisting by the Party, but did not preclude him for mentoring the next generation of filmmakers.

We then showcase a selection of remarkable 21st century films that have won world-wide acclaim for China’s talented directors and actors.

Our selection finishes with a couple of rollicking tales that have attracted the popular domestic audience: a grand epic: Red Cliff (2008), known better for its cavalry charges than its character development, and Lost in Thailand (2012) that, airily suspending social comment and political tension, was the biggest ever box office success in China.