Yang Ban Xi: The 8 Model Works

Director: Yan Ting Yuen
Screenwriters: Yan Ting Yuen

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


The revolutionary model opera—propagandist musicals that were virtually the only filmed entertainment for a generation of Communist Chinese—was the brainchild of Madame Mao Jiang Qing Min, the failed actress and first lady of the Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward. Although Jiang Qing was ultimately condemned, convicted, and erased from modern Chinese history, the Yang Ban Xi have recently regained popularity with the younger generation, while continuing to hold a tender place in the hearts of those who knew the originals—including the singers and dancers for whom the musicals were their ticket to fame as well as the ultimate cultural crime.

Director Yan Ting Yuen takes a reverent tack toward those who performed in the Yang Ban Xi, and an irreverent, playful attitude toward the operas themselves. Her cast will burst into song and dance at the most unexpected moment, giving the film a joyfulness and sense of humor missing from virtually any other account of the Maoist Chinese era. Exquisite original film segments from the eight model works, combined with interviews and contemporary performances, open a window into present-day urban China and its burgeoning cultural scene, and make for a visually striking and captivating film not to be missed.

— Diane Weyermann

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]