Bright Lights

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Early this month, in New York City, you could have seen 16 provocative Chinese films?a bigger selection of mainland movie artistry than the most devoted moviegoer could ever find in Beijing or Shanghai theaters. These are works of the so-called Sixth Generation: directors who made their first films in 1993-95 and whose demanding dramas have won praise at festivals around the world. And censure in their homeland.

These young auteurs, most of them graduates of the Beijing Film Academy, are sucessors to the famous Fifth Generation of Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige. But their films are worlds removed from Raise the Red...