Autumn Gem in the Epoch Times

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Epoch Times article on Autumn Gem

The Epoch Times attended our screening at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum in Downtown San Diego last weekend. The newspaper just posted its review of the screening.

曹健鏗與張蕊在影片放映後舉行的招待會上和聖地亞哥中華歷史博物館館長莊紹文合影(攝影: 楊婕/大紀元)

加州華裔後代拍「秋瑾」巡演百場

【簡體版】 【不顯現/顯現圖片】

【大紀元2011年06月03日訊】(大紀元記者楊婕美國聖地亞哥報導)值辛亥革命成功、中華民國建國百年,來自北加州的華裔後代曹健鏗和張蕊夫婦再次攜帶兩人合拍的「秋瑾」記錄片回到聖地亞哥,於5月28日在中華歷史博物館放映,自3年半前完成該片來在各地巡迴放映已過百場。
張蕊畢業於加州大學柏克利分校藝術系,喜愛舞蹈和傳統繪畫。她介紹說,幾年前讀到一本秋瑾傳記,深受感動,因為很多西方人,以及像她這樣在美國長大的華裔從來沒有聽說過秋瑾。秋瑾作為一個性格剛烈的女性民族英雄,給她留下很深的印象。她想,如果能拍一部秋瑾生平事跡的記錄片,讓更多的人,尤其是西方人知道,應該是很有意義的事。
張蕊的想法得到先生的支持。雖然曹健鏗畢業於史丹福大學計算機軟件專業,他也是專業攝影師,對藝術的興趣不亞於太太,兩人也希望有機會成為獨立電影製片人。張蕊於是辭去職位,為拍片全力以赴。
夫婦倆介紹,他們自籌資金,花了兩年多的時間拍片。期間他們到多家圖書館、博物館查找資料, 並到中國參觀了紹興的「秋瑾紀念館」,訪問了秋氏後人,還錄製了美國漢學專家對秋瑾的評價。影片以豐富的史料為主線,加入一些表演鏡頭,由前中國女子武術冠軍、好萊塢華裔女演員李靜飾演秋瑾,使記錄片內容更加全面、更容易讓沒有中國歷史背景的觀眾看懂。
自該片2009年在曹健鏗的母校,聖地亞哥私立學校「La Jolla Country Day School」首映以來,一年多的時間裏,這對年輕的夫婦足跡從美西到美東,並到加拿大。他們除了向公眾放映,還應邀到學校做教學介紹。所到之處,很多人對影片表現出極大興趣。今年十月他們將到香港介紹他們的作品。
張蕊和曹健鏗說,在製作過程中,雙方父母都給予很多幫助和支持,比如他們會幫忙把一些中文資料翻成英文等。這次在中華歷史博物館的放映,也靠曹健鏗的父母,聖地亞哥華裔畫家梁潔貞和先生曹進美牽線搭橋。
2011-06-03 14:47:30【萬年曆】

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San Diego Chinese Historical Museum Screening Recap

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Two years ago in May 2009, we held our first major public screening at Adam’s alma mater La Jolla Country Day School in San Diego. Over 100 screenings later, we’ve returned to Adam’s hometown for another event at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.

Early on in our project we had contacted the museum to do background research and also film some historical artifacts. Museum director Dr. Alexander Chuang and his staff were very generous in sharing their knowledge and support for our project. It was great to come back with the finished film and have a showing at the museum’s Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.

We had a fantastic turnout with a full house of 100 people, who all managed to fit inside the cozy auditorium. Some audience members had attended our first screening two years ago, and noticed the difference between our earlier version and the latest cut (we’re up to Cut #21 now!).

Many thanks to Dr. Chuang and the terrific museum staff for hosting us and organizing a wonderful reception afterwards.

Here are photos from our screening at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.

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

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.