World Journal Article on San Diego Chinese Historical Museum Screening

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Here is the World Journal newspaper’s coverage of our screening at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum last Saturday. Reporter Daming Lee wrote about our first major public event at La Jolla Country Day School in May 2009.

秋瑾紀錄片放映滿百場
記者李大明聖地牙哥報導

正值辛亥革命成功、中華民國誕生100周年之際,旅美華裔曹健鏗、張蕊夫婦拍攝的傳記紀錄片「秋瑾」也在美加各地放映整整100場。這一富有意義的巧合,顯示海外華人新一代重拾歷史使命的心願,更標誌文化傳承有更堅實基礎。

上世紀70年代出生的曹健鏗與張蕊,分別是香港、台灣移民的後代。曹健鏗畢業於史丹福大學,張蕊則是柏克萊加大高材生,兩人在拍攝傳記紀錄片「秋瑾」之前,對百年中國近代史所知有限,對電影製作更是一竅不通。一個偶然機會,他們看到了一本介紹「鑑湖女俠」秋瑾(1875-1907)生平的書,深為這位女傑立志推翻封建王朝、追求婦女解放、最終為理想獻身的事蹟所感動,決心拍攝一部影片,讓海外華人下一代瞭解這些可歌可泣的往事。

兩位年輕人不顧資金匱乏、經驗不足,說幹就幹。他們走遍秋瑾故里浙江紹興,請教研究秋瑾的中外學者,終於在2009年完成這部長達一小時的傳記紀錄片,並在聖地牙哥的私立中學「La Jolla Country Day School」首映,受到許多好評。

此後兩年,曹健鏗與張蕊帶著自己的這部處女作,馬不停蹄地奔走於美國東西兩岸放映,漸漸引起了媒體與公眾的注意。上周末,兩人回到當初起步的聖地牙哥,在當地「中華歷史博物館」為華洋朋友作了第100場放映,作為對辛亥革命百周年的獻禮,並告慰秋瑾烈士。

近百名華洋朋友應邀在聖地牙哥中華歷史博物館觀賞了這部電影,曹健鏗、張蕊還即席回答了觀眾的提問。歷史博物館館長莊紹文代表社區,向兩人頒贈了感謝狀。

Female Circumcision and Footbinding

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I was alerted to an article in the New York Times recently about female genital mutilation (also known as female circumcision) in Africa. Young girls are taken to a “cutter” who carves out their clitoris and labia with a razor, then stitches the flesh back together, leaving a small opening for urination and menstruation. The purpose is for ensuring chastity and “lowering the sex drive of our daughters,” according to one practitioner.

The reporter notes that this is “a form of oppression that women themselves embrace and perpetuate.” I’m reminded of the similarities with footbinding. Women were the ones who carried out the process within the family (usually the mother or grandmother), and they were often the most resistant to change when the practice began to fall out of favor. In fact, even after it was officially banned in 1912, it would continue for over 30 years afterwards, perpetuated by women themselves.

While female genital mutilation is currently illegal in several African and Middle Eastern countries, it is still practiced widely and has even found its way to the U.S. Let’s hope it will be eradicated soon, and, like footbinding, seen as the inhumane violence against women that it is.

Cinematic Celebrations of Centenary

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In addition to Jackie Chan’s film 1911, Taiwan is producing an animated feature on Sun Yat-sen and his comrades to commemorate the 1911 Revolution centenary. I grabbed a couple screenshots from the trailer featuring Qiu Jin:

She looks a bit like Li Jing (maybe it’s the similar poses).

Here’s a portrait of Qiu Jin as played by Ning Jing in the Jackie Chan film. I like the androgynous quality of her face set against the traditional feminine dress.

Both films are set to be released later this year. It’ll be interesting to see how our heroine is depicted in these versions!

A Century of Change: China 1911-2011

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The Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University is celebrating the 100 years anniversary of the 1911 Revolution with a new exhibit featuring archival materials and audiovisual media from its collection, as well as a few props from AUTUMN GEM in its section on “Reformers and Revolutionaries.” Adam and I attended the reception and were impressed with the scope of the exhibit, covering the momentous changes during this critical period in Chinese history.

We were treated to a special viewing of the original diaries of Chiang Kai-shek, on display for one day only during the reception. The diaries were loaned to the Hoover Archives in 2005 by members of the Chiang family for preservation purposes and are rarely shown in public.

Also on display was a section about the Rape of Nanking and the work of Iris Chang. We had the pleasure of meeting her parents there, whom we found out had ties to both our families. They were good friends of my aunt and uncle in Illinois, as well as Adam’s uncle in New Jersey. Small world! Ying-Ying Chang, Iris’ mother, recently wrote a memoir of her daughter, “The Woman Who Could Not Forget.” She’ll be giving a book reading in the Bay Area in mid-May, which we’re looking forward to.

The Hoover exhibit will be on display through March 2012. It’s a fascinating look into China’s emergence as a modern nation and is worth checking out.

“A Century of Change: China 1911-2011″
Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion
(adjacent to Hoover Tower)
Stanford University
Open Tuesday – Saturday
11:00am – 4:00pm
Free admission

http://www.hoover.org/library-and-archives/exhibits/71296

A Step Backwards for Women in China

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“What’s the current status of women in China today?” This question comes up often in our Q-and-A sessions. Interestingly, we were recently alerted to an incident which sheds some light on this topic.

Li Yinhe slams NPC representative Zhang Xiaomei’s proposal to send women back into the kitchen

At the recently concluded “Two Sessions”, a female National People’s Congress representative by the name of Zhang Xiaomei made the shocking proposal for women to leave the workforce and return home. Notable feminist-sociologist Li Yinhe took to her blog to explain why Zhang’s proposal is a bad idea, and to lament the overall lack of the awareness of gender equality among female NPC delegates.

“This would not only be a huge setback to the great strides we have made in women’s rights, but also a huge letdown to the many great feminists (like Qiu Jin) who have fought the tough battle for gender equality for over a hundred years.”

At one of our recent screenings an audience member remarked that, for many feminist movements around the world, the greatest resistance came not from men but from other women. Perhaps they felt they had the most to lose. Although if Representative Zhang Xiaomei actually followed her own proposal, I guess that means she’ll have to give up her official position. I’d like to see a modern day Qiu Jin take her place.

Thanks to I.H. for the article!

Monterey Park Public Library Screening Recap

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Rounding out our Southern California tour was an event at the Monterey Park Public Library. Monterey Park was where we filmed the scene of Qiu Jin training with her cousin (who is played by Rae’s real cousin Hans), so it was great returning to one of our shooting locations.

Our actress Li Jing attended the screening, and we had a nice chat with one of her wushu friends from China, who currently does stuntwork in Hollywood as well. We also got excellent advice and feedback from several audience members who are active in the arts and film community in Southern California.

Our friend Rafael posed a great question about the reception of gender equality in current repressive regimes. Adam pointed out a recent article about the ongoing Egyptian protests, in which women participating in a march on International Women’s Day were harassed by men and told to “go home where they belong.” Women throughout history have been fighting for their rights and engaging in political activism, but oftentimes they’ve faced resistance from men who accuse them of impinging on “their” revolution. It’s inspiring to see the struggle for equality continue with the women in Egypt, who share the same spirit as Qiu Jin.

Many thanks go out to Senior Librarian Cindy Costales for helping us set up and managing a full house, and the Friends of the Library for providing the delicious refreshments.

Here are photos from our Monterey Park Public Library screening.

Miramar College Screening Recap

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Our first major public screening was at Adam’s high school in San Diego back in May 2009. On Friday we returned to his home turf for another event, this time at Miramar College.

We had a fantastic turnout of students, faculty, community members, and even some of Adam’s elementary school classmates from Spreckels! Thanks to the internet and sites like Facebook, we can now reconnect with friends from over 25 years ago, and it was great having a mini-reunion at the screening.

We’ve often been asked whether we’ll be showing the film in China. We’ve just begun planning a trip to Hong Kong in October this year, which looks to be a busy time for commemoration activities of the Chinese Revolution which took place on October 10, 1911.

Many thanks to Judy Patacsil, Ethnic Studies Professor and International Education Coordinator at Miramar and her student volunteers for putting on a successful event!

Here are photos from our Miramar College screening.

Torrance Public Library Screening Recap

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Second stop on our Southern California tour was the Torrance Public Library. Rae was born in Torrance, and the screening was held the day before her birthday, March 9, which happens to be Adam’s birthday! Yes, we’re both Pisces, and this year is also Adam’s Year of the Rabbit, so we’re looking forward to being especially productive.

We had a fantastic turnout with over 120 people, which made for a lively discussion session. Thanks to Dana Vinke from the library for putting on such a terrific event and getting the crowd to come!

A special thanks to Ann Lau who helped put us in touch with the library initially. We first met Ann almost two years ago at our Pacific Asia Museum screening. Since then, she’s been a strong supporter of the film as well as an inspiring activist in her own right in her many efforts on human rights issues.

Ann made an important point during the Q-and-A regarding the different perspectives on suicide in Chinese and Western cultures. Traditional Chinese culture viewed giving one’s life to a larger cause as heroic, whereas in the U.S. the act may be seen as more selfish or inward-directed. As Hu Ying mentions in the film, Qiu Jin was able to achieve a greater impact in her sacrificial death than in her life.

Here are photos from our Torrance Public Library screening.

UC Riverside Screening Recap

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On Monday we headed down to Southern California for another week of screenings. Around this time a year ago we were at UC Irvine, where Professor Hu Ying, one of the scholars in the film, had invited us to show it. This time, we travelled inland to UC Riverside, where we were hosted by the Women’s Studies Department in celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8.

It was a hundred years ago that the first IWD was celebrated, marking awareness of the social and political struggles of women worldwide to achieve equality. 2011 is also the centenary of the Chinese Revolution that Qiu Jin was involved in, so it’s especially timely to recognize the work of early feminists in China’s history.

After the screening we were invited to dinner by Alicia Arrizón, Chair of Women’s Studies, and Professor Tammy Ho and her mother. We had a wonderful time hearing about their many projects and family stories and enjoying the delicious Italian food – a great way to end the evening!

Here are photos from our UC Riverside screening.

2011 Winter Update

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The plum blossom’s icy beauty defies the aggression of snow and frost.
Refusing to decorate jade palaces, she adorns an ancient peak.
Her sublimity lies in her independence.
– Qiu Jin
(translation by Kang-i Sun Chang and Haun Saussy)

Happy Year of the Rabbit! We have some great developments this year as we continue to exhibit and promote AUTUMN GEM. 2011 is especially meaningful as it marks the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution, the cause that Qiu Jin sacrificed her life for.

INSTITUTIONAL DVD NOW AVAILABLE

AUTUMN GEM is now available for purchase online for both personal and institutional use. The institutional DVD comes with an extensive study guide that provides historical context, key concepts and figures, discussion questions, and a full transcript of Qiu Jin’s writings used in the film with English translations.

Purchase the DVD for yourself or as a gift to family and friends. If you are affiliated with an educational institution, request your department or library to order a copy for their collection. Celebrate the centenary of the 1911 Revolution by sharing the story of Qiu Jin. Order online here.

AUTUMN GEM AT ASSOCIATION FOR ASIAN STUDIES CONFERENCE

We will be presenting on a panel at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference in Hawaii, March 31 – April 3. The Association for Asian Studies is the largest professional organization of scholars of Asia worldwide. Our panel, “Word and Image in Chinese Film Adaption,” was organized by Professors Tze-lan Sang from the University of Oregon and Hsiu-chuang Deppmann from Oberlin College, and will be moderated by Lingzhen Wang, one of the scholars in the film. We’re very excited to be part of this special event in the beautiful city of Honolulu.

SPRING 2011 TOUR DATES ANNOUNCED: VANCOUVER, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, HAWAII

We’ll be continuing our screening tour with more events lined up across the U.S. and Canada. If you have family and/or friends in these areas, please let them know and encourage them to attend! Feel free to invite them on our Facebook page.

Vancouver

  • February 28: Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Richmond, B.C. Canada
  • March 1: University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. Canada
  • March 2: Richmond Women’s Resource Centre at Richmond Hospital, Richmond, B.C. Canada

Southern California

  • March 8: UC Riverside, Riverside, CA
  • March 9: Torrance Public Library, Torrance, CA
  • March 11: San Diego Miramar College, San Diego, CA
  • March 13: Monterey Park Public Library, Monterey Park, CA

Hawaii

  • March 29: University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, Honolulu, HI
  • March 30: Hawai’i Pacific University, Honolulu, HI
  • April 1: Hawai’i Pacific University, Honolulu, HI

Full details can be found here: http://autumn-gem.com/screenings/

IPAD APP

First the film, now the IPad app! We’ve developed a free app that provides an extensive trailer of the film through selected video clips, animated images, and interactive features. Experience the story of Qiu Jin in a new media format and catch a glimpse of the frontier of digital storytelling. AUTUMN GEM Preview won the Future of Publishing Award at the 2010 iPadDevCamp. Download it now from the App store.