Benjamin Brodsky (1877-1960): The Trans-Pacific American Film Entrepreneur, Part One, Making A Trip Thru China

Ramona Curry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Authoritative statements have long credited the elusive American immigrant entrepreneur Benjamin Brodsky (1877-1960) with founding film production companies in Shanghai and Hong Kong as early as 1909 and initiating filmmaking collaborations with local Chinese. Yet those histories prove on close examination to consist mostly of sketchy assertions offered without clear evidence. This essay draws on original archival research and recent work of scholars in Hong Kong, Europe, and Japan to reframe the historical narrative, dating most developments a few years later while revealing fresh aspects of Brodsky's trans-Pacific operations and high-level Chinese involvement. The new findings have intriguing implications for our understanding of early twentieth-century trans-Pacific cultural associations as well as Chinese cinema. Part One of this article reconstructs Brodsky's early career and reveals new evidence of his interactions with Chinese returned students and government officials, with a focus on the production in China of Brodsky's feature-length travel documentary A Trip Thru China (1916).
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-94
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of American-East Asian Relations
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Hong Kong cinema
  • Chinese returned students
  • ethnographic film
  • film production in Shanghai
  • historiography
  • early transnational cinema
  • Chinese film history
  • trans-Pacific trade

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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