The Cultural Contrast of Short Film Industries: Digital Boom in China Vs Retro Revival in Japan

Joel Fukuzawa
3 min readNov 30, 2023

Introduction: The Resurgence of Short Films in Contemporary Culture

In 2023, China’s short film industry experienced a remarkable surge, becoming a pivotal element of the country’s pop culture. These short films, ranging from 1 to 10 minutes, boast low production costs, compact storytelling, and have captivated a vast young audience, especially in the mid to low-end market. Technological advancements have lowered production barriers, allowing grassroots teams and amateur creators to quickly enter the field. The popularity of Chinese short films owes much to digitalization and the ubiquity of the internet. Platforms like Douyin (TikTok) and WeChat have enabled rapid dissemination among a broad young audience, endearing these films for their convenience and accessibility. The inclusion of short films in the National Radio and Television Administration’s regulatory framework has also mitigated industry risks. In stark contrast, Japan’s short film culture displays a completely different style, with young people gravitating towards a unique retro approach.

China’s Short Film Boom: A Digital Phenomenon

The short film industry in China is a testament to the power of digitalization and internet accessibility. Video platforms such as Douyin and WeChat have been instrumental in spreading these films across a vast young audience. This trend is not just about entertainment; it’s a reflection of the digital savviness and content consumption preferences of China’s youth. The inclusion of short films in regulatory frameworks has provided a sense of security and legitimacy, further boosting the industry’s growth.

Japan’s Retro Twist: The Charm of Vintage in Modern Times

In Tokyo’s Shimokitazawa neighborhood, a coffee shop named ‘TAN PEN TON’ stands out for its unusual choice in the digital age: recording short films on VHS tapes. Limited to 10 minutes, these films have attracted a plethora of young…

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Joel Fukuzawa

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