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 Arriz√≥n, 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.

AAUW Morgan Hill Screening Recap

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Back in March 2010, we had a screening at the Willow Glen Library sponsored by the San Jose branch of the American Association of University Women. After a successful event, the organizers promoted the film to other AAUW chapters, and soon afterwards we were contacted by Peggy Thompson from the Morgan Hill branch, who along with Betsy Ding arranged a screening last Wednesday.

The event took place at the Morgan Hill House, a historical residence built by Hiram Morgan Hill. I never realized the city was named after an actual person rather than a hill! Morgan Hill was a rancher from San Francisco who built a country retreat in the town that now bears his name.

We had a packed house of AAUW members and the outside community. Several in the audience shared their experiences visiting or living in China, in some cases back in the 1930′s! With Hu Jintao’s recent meeting with President Obama, China is definitely becoming a hot subject for discussion, with many in the audience expressing their desire to explore its history.

A tremendous thank you to Peggy, Betsy, her sister, and their fellow AAUW members for organizing the screening and being terrific hosts.

Here are photos from the AAUW Morgan Hill screening.

Southern Methodist University Screening Recap

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SMU Screening of Autumn Gem

Our final screening of 2010 tour was at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. SMU was chartered and founded in 1911, the same year that Women’s History Month was started and the fall of the Qing Dynasty in China. Today, the school is home to 11,000 students, and will be the future site of the former President George W. Bush’s Presidential Library. In fact, the groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 16, 2010, just a few days before our November 22 screening.

We met the Colombo family at our Austin College screening the previous Friday. They had read about our article in a Dallas newspaper and were keen on coming because they are adoptive parents of several children from China. Following the screening, they told their friends in their children’s Chinese Girl Scout troop about the SMU showing. Thanks to the Colombo’s and Kimberly Powell for bringing a great community turnout at SMU!

Along with them, we had a large number of students from various Chinese Language and History classes turn out. Next time, we’ll have to get a bigger room, as it was standing room only in the back! We got a great question from one of the students about the dilemma between Qiu Jin’s fascination with Western ideas and her opposition to Western incursion into China. In order to repel the Western invaders and internally strengthen her country, Qiu Jin felt that China needed to learn from its enemies. Knowing this perhaps gives us perspective on China’s relationship with the West today. After all, it’s only been 100 years since the birth of Modern China, a relatively short-time by historical measure.

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Austin College Screening Recap

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Austin College

Next stop on our Texas tour was Austin College, located in Sherman, a small town about an hour north of Dallas. Driving there from Texas A&M took 4 hours, passing by several other small towns along the way, including Hearne – home of John Randle, Hall of Fame NFL Player, according to the giant billboard greeting us on the side of the road. Football is big in Texas, and even the small towns take great pride in their local heroes!

Austin College is a private liberal arts schools with about 1350 students. We were greeted upon our arrival by Scott Langton, Professor of Japanese, who gave us a tour of the campus. We visited the Jordan Family Language House, a residential hall “specifically designed to encourage the study of foreign languages (Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish).” Students speak entirely in their chosen language and practice with native speaker residents. One of the hallways was labeled La Maison Française, which reminded Adam of his senior year house. As the theme associate for the French House, Adam organized wine and cheese nights and French classes for the residents. Fun times indeed!

Our screening that evening had a good mix of students and community members. Afterwards we had a great conversation with the Colombo family and their four children from China. Apparently the Dallas-Fort Worth area has a sizeable number of families with adopted children from China, and there are various programs and services that cater to them. My sister May adopted their daughter Abby from China 2 years ago, and they participate in similar programs out in Colorado.

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Texas A&M Screening Recap

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Texas A&M Screening

Following our great time at Trinity, we made the three and a half hour trek to Texas A&M, the oldest public university in Texas. The university is located in the city of College Station, which is in the middle of the Dallas, Houston and San Antonio triangle. Confirming the theory that everything is bigger in Texas, the campus sits on an enormous 5000+ acres. I felt like many a lost Stanford parent driving around Campus Drive while trying to find Parking Lot 28. According to our contact Kelly, there’s a lot of construction going on, which explained why some roads were closed for pedestrian traffic only.

We had a little mixup with the screening room, which turned out to be double-booked. Quick thinking on the part of our hosts at the Confucius Institute, Kelly Kleinkort, Executive Director Randy Kluver, Director Luo Yirong, James Mendiola and Amanda Zuccarini, got us a new room in the same building, on the third floor. Most of the students came from a Gender Studies class, and we had a great discussion with Paul, a French exchange student, after the showing.

We wish we could have stayed longer in College Station and explore the many Aggie traditions, but we simply did not have enough time. The next day, we had to drive four hours to Sherman for our screening at Austin College.

Here are photos from our Texas A&M screening.

Trinity University Screening Recap

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Our next stop on our Texas tour was at Trinity University. Since we were staying with Patrick and Nicole in San Antonio, we only had to drive 25 minutes to get to campus instead of three to four hours as we did for our next two screenings to Texas A&M and Austin College. Being able to stay in one place for a couple of days meant we could explore the area more fully.

If I could use one word to describe our Trinity experience, it’s hospitality. The Trinity faculty and staff at the EAST (East Asian Studies at Trinity), especially Professor Zhang, did a fantastic job making us feel welcome during our two days. EAST’s Franke Johnson first took us to the River Walk of downtown San Antonio. We took some photos of the Carlos Cortez sculptures along the River Walk. Back in 2001 during my first trip to San Antonio, I walked along the river in the retail district, but didn’t get to see these sculptures. One day, we’ll walk the entire seven miles! We had lunch at La Gloria, which specializes in street foods of Mexico. We ordered the ceviche, which had cilantro in it, but surprisingly neither Rae nor I could taste it. For two people who don’t like cilantro, that was refreshing!

Carlos Cortes sculptures at the River Walk.

After lunch, we went back to the EAST office where we were videotaped for an upcoming Trinity University iPad application. The app will display a map of the campus; users can tap on a building or use GPS to bring up video clips from their current location. Reuben took videos of us talking with Franke about our film; he also videotaped the beginning portion of our presentation at the screening. We can’t wait to see the app!

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University of Texas at San Antonio Screening Recap

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UTSA screening of Autumn Gem

After a night at my relative’s house in Houston, Rae and I drove three and a half hours to San Antonio, Texas, for our second screening at the University of Texas at San Antonio. I was last in San Antonio back in 2001, during which I also visited Austin, Houston, and San Jacinto.

Had we arrived the day before, the campus would have been a lot busier due to Saturday being UTSA Day. That’s when the public can meet with faculty, students, and experience the Roadrunner lifestyle.

We had a mix of community members and students at the screening. Among them was a Japanese woman from Brazil. She told us that early Japanese immigrants to Brazil were snookered into slavery. Her friends whom she brought to the screening were interested in documentary films; perhaps they should get together to work on that!

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