Cinema Realistic films are the mainstream of Chinese cinema. In the new wave of film-making that rose up in the mid-1980s, realistic works reached a high level of creativity in their depiction of life, variety of subjects, styles and forms, and in the exploration and innovation of cinematic language. The "fifth-generation" directors, including Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige and Huang Jianxin rose to fame during this period, becoming international cinema celebrities.

The late 1990s and the early 21th century saw the emergence of the "sixth-generation" directors such as Wang Xiaoshuai, Zhang Yuan and Lou Ye, born in the 1960s and 1970s. Their movies reveal the lives of common people in a documentary fashion. The commercial movies of Director Feng Xiaogang (most of them also stories of ordinary people) hold the box office record.

The Changchun and Shanghai international movie festivals are held annually in China. The "Golden Rooster Prize" is the top prize for Chinese films. The government has specially set up the "Ornamental Pillar Prize" to encourage the development of mainstream movies. In addition, there is the "Hundred Flowers Prize," awarded on the basis of audience votes.