Golden Dragon Productions

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Da Song

One reason Golden Dragon Productions was formed was to take advantage of the BFI’s UK / China Treaty to develop and facilitate international media co-production with China.  Currently Sheena Mac Brayne, the highly experienced UK Writer, Producer and Director of Golden Dragon Productions, is working closely with Chinese Producer Vivian Zheng, based in Beijing. This, their first co-production presently in edit is 'Da Song’, a 14-part documentary series on the Song (Sung) Empire filmed in China, Europe and the USA.


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BACKGROUND: The Origin of the Song Empire (906–1276AD)

“Between ... 960 and ... 1127, China passed through a phase of economic growth that was unprecedented in earlier Chinese history, perhaps in world history up to this time. It depended on a combination of commercialization, urbanization, and industrialization that has led some authorities to compare this period in Chinese history with the development of early modern Europe six centuries later.”

— Philip D. Curtin in Cross-Cultural Trade in World History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)

At the end of the the Tang Empire in 906 AD, 'China' was either divided among kingdoms or was conquered by invaders. The time was a period of war and turmoil, lasting for some 50 years. In 923 AD large sections in the west and north were taken over by other empires or by nomadic tribes, and in the east there were 8 small kingdoms. Then, in the year 960 AD, a general in one of the kingdoms called Northern Zhou named Zhao Kuangyin rebelled against his king and the court officials and started his own dynasty. This general was called Emperor Taizu and during his lifetime went on to defeat most of the kingdoms around him and so established the Song Empire.

 

Over the course of the next 300 years  - in 1000, 1100, 1200, and 1300 AD - the empire grew increasingly prosperous, the population doubled and science and technology advanced. China became the most advanced place in the world. Marco Polo (1254-1324) recognized this on reaching China in the late 13th century after traveling through much of Asia. 


For several centuries the Chinese economy had grown spectacularly. During the Song (Sung) Dynasty (960-1276), technology was highly advanced in fields as diverse as agriculture, iron-working, and printing. Indeed, scholars today talk of a Song economic revolution, with more and more people living in cities. The Song system of government was also advanced for its time: the upper-levels were staffed by highly educated scholar-officials selected through competitive written examinations.


Yet, despite its political and economic strengths, Song China was not able to dominate its neighbors militarily, and needed to make constant efforts to maintain peace with its powerful northern neighbors and extend its trading networks.