AAS Conference

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Wednesday night was the start of the Association for Asian Studies Conference, and after our screening at Hawai’i Pacific University we headed over to the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort to enjoy the welcome reception.

The Association for Asian Studies (AAS) is the largest worldwide scholarly professional association for those interested in the study of Asia. Last October, we attended their Western Regional Conference, held at California State University Northridge. This year’s conference was a much larger affair, a joint event with the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS), held at the Hawai’i Convention Center.

With over 5000 attendees, the Convention Center was bustling with activity, and we ran into several people we met over the course of our screening tours. We also saw the three scholars whom we had interviewed for our film: Amy Dooling, Lingzhen Wang, and Hu Ying, and it was great reconnecting with them all at the same place.

Prior to our panel, we attended some other sessions, including “Rethinking the 1911 Revolution” which was moderated by Mary Rankin, who had written an invaluable study of Qiu Jin, “The Emergence of Women at the End of the Ch’ing: The Case of Ch’iu Chin” in Margery Wolf and Roxane Witke’s book Women in Chinese Society.

We also caught a few movies playing in conjunction with the conference, including 1428, a documentary on the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the recovery efforts by government agencies and survivors, and Ruby Yang’s Tongzhi in Love, a poignant account of the conflicted lives of gay men in Beijing.

Our panel, “Word and Image in Chinese Film Adaptation,” was organized by Professor Tze-Lan Sang from the University of Oregon. The five panels covered a range a topics in analyzing the adaptation of literary works onto film, and included presentations by Xiaoquan Zhang from the University of Oregon, Alexander Huang from Pennsylvania State University, Hsiu-Chuang Deppman from Oberlin College, and Tze-Lan Sang, with Lingzhen Wang as the discussant.

Prior to the panel, we had lunch with our fellow presenters, all of whom we met for the first time (except Lingzhen Wang). I discovered that Alexander Huang, who had recently written a book called Chinese Shakespeares: Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange, is a colleague of my uncle in Taiwan, who is also a Shakespeare scholar. We also found out some more information about the upcoming feature film on the Xinhai Revolution currently in production in China. Simply titled 1911, it’s directed by Jackie Chan, who plays revolutionary leader Huang Xing. The role of Qiu Jin is played by Ning Jing, whom we’re not familiar with, but in any case we’re looking forward to seeing this when it comes out in September!

We had a tight schedule with our five presentations squeezed into a 2-hour session, but it went fairly smoothly, with a few of us having to shorten our talks a bit to fit into the time limit. Adam served as tech coordinator to help transition between the multiple presentations, and there was time to get in some thoughtful audience questions as well as Lingzhen Wang’s insightful commentary.

Overall, it was a constructive and enlightening experience, and we had a great time participating in the conference. Thanks to all our fellow panelists for a fantastic job!

Here are photos from the AAS Conference.

Hawai’i Pacific University Screening Recap and Photos

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We had two events at Hawai’i Pacific University, part of their weekly Viewpoints Film Series. At the first screening Professor William Zanella, who teaches Chinese history and Mandarin, introduced the film and provided historical background for this critical juncture in China’s modernization.

We had a full house of students and community members at both screenings, held at the downtown HPU campus near Honolulu’s Chinatown. An interesting point brought up at the Q-and-A was the connection between the feminist movement in China and other countries. The British and U.S. women’s suffrage movements were gaining momentum at the same time that Qiu Jin and her cohorts were fighting for their rights. Also during this period was the development of a radical feminist movement in Iran. Were these women influenced and inspired by each other, tapping into a similar energy worldwide? Qiu Jin, for example, specifically mentions contemporaries like Harriet Beecher Stowe and Florence Nightingale as role models for Chinese women.

Many thanks go out to Professor Linda Lierheimer, coordinator of the Viewpoints Film Series, and her student assistant Tim for putting on a successful event. We especially enjoyed the free pizza and snacks provided by the History Department, which made for a festive atmosphere!

Here are photos from our Hawai’i Pacific University screening.

University of Hawai’i at Manoa Screening Recap and Photos

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We were very excited to show our film in conjunction with the “Rethinking the Chinese Revolution: 1911 in Global Perspective” Conference at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. The event was organized by the Center for Chinese Studies and Confucius Institute and held at the East-West Center on the UHM campus.

Hawaii holds a special place in relation to the 1911 Revolution since it was where Sun Yat-sen spent his formative years. He attended the Iolani School and later studied at Punahou School, whose famous alumni also includes President Obama. His education in Hawaii had a strong impact on his political ideals, and he later incorporated the American concept of “government of the people, by the people, for the people” into his revolutionary principles.

While checking into the hotel, we ran into Amy Dooling, one of the scholars in our film, who was speaking on a panel called “The Gender of Revolution.” One of the larger questions in light of the 1911 Revolution centenary is the role of women, and we were glad to see this subject addressed at the conference.

At the hotel we also saw Tamara Jacka, our contact at Australian National University, who was in town for the upcoming Association for Asian Studies Conference. It was great reconnecting with her, and we’d be seeing many of our other past screening acquaintances at the conference itself.

We had a great turnout for our screening at the Art Building Auditorium, due in large part to the extensive promotional efforts of our local contacts Leigh-Wai Doo and Marsha Joyner. We met Leigh-Wai back in 2009 at one of our first events, at the US-China Peoples Friendship Association National Conference in San Francisco. Leigh-Wai is involved in several organizations including the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Hawaii Foundation, Palolo Chinese Home, and United Chinese Society. Besides being a pillar of the Chinese community in Hawaii, his grandfather was an early supporter of Sun Yat-sen and one of the 72 National Martyrs of Revolutionary China.

Marsha Joyner came across our film while researching Chinese women revolutionaries. A life-long civil rights activist and former president of The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Coalition in Hawaii, she was initially drawn by the issue of footbinding and Sun Yat-sen’s efforts to bring women into the political process. She’s been a fantastic supporter of the film and has helped us get involved in many of the centenary events in the area.

Many thanks also to Frederick Lau, Director of the Center for Chinese Studies, Cynthia Ning, Director of the Confucius Institute, Professor Shana Brown from the History Department who was our initial contact, and CCS coordinators Daniel Tschudi and Jialin Sun for hosting us. We had a fantastic time participating in the conference, which was an excellent lead-in to the upcoming Association for Asian Studies event.

Here are photos from our University of Hawai’i at Manoa screening.

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.