When they came to Beijing in March 1994, my Japanese friends Kimata
Junji and Seki Masami urged me to write a book about the early days of
the Fifth Generation. They requested an account of their youthful experi-
ences before entering the Beijing Film Academy and during the movement
to send educated youths up into the mountains and down to the country-
side, their student days at the Academy, and the production of their first
films. As I understood it, they wanted me to write a kind of prehistory of
Fifth Generation cinema.
They stipulated accurate historical materials and lively writing with an
emphasis on fact over commentary, so that readers could trace the emer-
gence of the Fifth Generation for themselves. Because I began teaching at
the Beijing Film Academy in the early 1980s, I became both mentor and
friend to the Fifth Generation. When One and Eight and Yellow Earth ap-
peared, I also wrote quite a few reviews to draw attention to them. That
is why Kimata Junji and Seki Masami felt I would be suited to the task
they proposed. And this is how the first edition of this book came to be
published in Japanese in Nagoya, Japan.
In the early 1980s, Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Tian Zhuangzhuang, Li
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