The cinema of Mainland China is one of three distinct historical threads of Chinese-language cinema together with the cinema of Hong Kong and the cinema of Taiwan.
Cinema was introduced in China in 1896 and the first Chinese film, Dingjun Mountain, was made in 1905. In the early decades, the film industry was centered on Shanghai. The first sound film, Sing-Song Girl Red Peony, using the sound-on-disc technology, was made in 1931. The 1930s, considered the first “Golden Period” of Chinese cinema, saw the advent of the Leftist cinematic movement.
The dispute between Nationalists and Communists was reflected in the films produced. After the Japanese invasion of China and the occupation of Shanghai, the industry in the city was severely curtailed, with filmmakers moving to Hong Kong, Chongqing and other places. A “Solitary Island” period began in Shanghai, where the filmmakers who remained worked in the foreign concessions.
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Princess Iron Fan (1941), the first Chinese animated feature film, was released at the end of this period. It influenced wartime Japanese animation and later Osamu Tezuka. After being completely engulfed by the occupation in 1941, and until the end of the war in 1945, the film industry in the city was under Japanese control.