posted on the Atlantic forums:
I find both cultures fascinating myself, and it's hard to say one's more profound than the other...tho admittedly Japan is the younger culture, and takes much of its basic identity from the Chinese.
When it comes to the narrow field of films, tho, I do see Japanese enjoying an advantage, with their more active and diversified filmmaking industry. They had a huge range of filmmakers, not just muscular Kurosawa but delicate Ozu, beautiful Mizoguchi, austere Naruse, inventive Suzuki...then there's Kinoshita, Kobayashi, Yabushita, Miyazaki, Tezuka, Takahata, to name names off the top of my head.
I'd say when it comes to recent films the case for Chinese films is stronger: I can say Takeshi Kitano or Kurosawa Koyshi or Hirokazu Kore-eda, or Shinji Aoyama, but pit them against Fruit Chan, or Tian Zhuangzhuang, or Zhang Yimou (well, one film of his), or Hou Hsiao Hsien, or Edward Yang, or Tsai Ming Liang and I'd say I like the former team, but overall in terms of their humanity and profundity I'd prefer the latter...