Diantong Film Company (Chinese: 電通影片公司) was a short-lived but important film studio and production company during the 1930s in Shanghai, China. Though it produced only four films during its existence between 1934-1935, all four films became important examples of the left-leaning Chinese cinema of the 1930s. Of all the film studios of the period, Diantong had the closest connection to the Communist Party of China.
Diantong's origins were originally in a sound-equipment company founded in 1933 by four American-educated engineers to take advantage of the gradual shift from silent films to "talkies." As a developer of sound-recorders, Diantong was pivotal in bringing to Chinese audiences some of the earliest sound-films, including the Lianhua Film Company-produced Song of the Fishermen (dir. Cai Chusheng). With these successes and with the help of one of the founder's cousins, Situ Huimin, a major leftist filmmaker and intellectual, the equipment company was reformed as its own independent film studio in 1934. From the beginning, Diantong was marked by youth, with its films directed by first-time filmmakers and starring novice actors and actresses (including Yuan Muzhi, Chen Bo'er, Ying Yunwei, and others. This was in part due to Diantong being forced to recruit from local theater organizations rather than from more-established film-makers and crew, who feared associating with such a progressive organization - a similar leftist studio, the Yihua Film Company had only recently had its offices and equipment vandalized and destroyed by government agents. Additionally, Diantong drew from Situ's ties to the Communist Party, bringing in screenwriters and party-members such as Tian Han and Xia Yan.
In a short period of time, the company produced four classics of the period: Plunder of Peach and Plum (dir. Ying Yunwei), Children of Troubled Times (dir. Xu Xingzhi), Cityscape (dir. Yuan Muzhi), and Spirit of Freedom (dir. Situ Huimin) (also known as The Goddess of Freedom).
Despite these successes, by 1935, Diantong was suffering not only from Kuomintang pressure due to its political slant (so-called "White terrorism"), but also from financial woes. As a result, in the winter of 1935, Diantong closed its doors permanently. The remains of the company were soon incorporated into Zhang Shankun's newly formed Xinhua Film Company. Meanwhile, many of Diantong's top talent, including Ying Yunwei and Yuan Muzhi, were recruited in Mingxing Film Company's newly formed Studio 2, focused on left-wing cinema. There, they made some of the more important films of the movement, notably Yuan's Street Angel.
|Year||English Title||Chinese Title||Director||Cast|
|1934||Plunder of Peach and Plum||桃李劫||Ying Yunwei||Yuan Muzhi, Chen Bo'er|
|1935||Children of Troubled Times||风云儿女||Xu Xingzhi||Yuan Muzhi, Wang Renmei|
|1935||Spirit of Freedom||自由神||Situ Huimin|
|1935||Scenes of City Life||都市风光||Yuan Muzhi||Bai Lu, Jiang Qing|
- Pang, p. 56.
- Pang, p. 55.
- Pang, p. 63.
- Pang, Laikwan. Building a New China in Cinema: The Chinese Left-Wing Cinema Movement, 1932-1937. Rowman & Littlefield, 2002. ISBN 0-7425-0946-X.