2011 Winter Update


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.


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.


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.


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.


  • 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


  • 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: https://autumn-gem.com/screenings/


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.


AAUW Morgan Hill Screening Recap


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.

Autumn Gem Coming To University of Texas, San Antonio


Autumn Gem is featured in UTSA Today, the online newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio. We’ll be screening there on Sunday, November 13, 2010 from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm.

Here’s the article, copied below.

UTSA East Asia Institute to screen documentary on China’s first feminist

By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(Nov. 10, 2010)–As part of UTSA Diversity Month, the UTSA East Asia Institute will host a free screening of the documentary “Autumn Gem: The Story of China’s First Feminist” at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 14 in the University Center Retama Auditorium (2.02.02) on the UTSA Main Campus. Directors Rae Chang and Adam Tow will attend the screening to meet the public and discuss their project.

The film is about Qui Jin, a Joan of Arc-style character, who defied tradition to become the leader of a revolutionary army fighting against the corrupt Qing dynasty. The radical women’s-rights activist challenged traditional gender roles and emerged as a national heroine celebrated in China today.
Jin envisioned a future where women would free themselves from the confines of tradition and arise as strong and active citizens of a new and modern nation. She spoke out against foot binding and other oppressive practices and demanded equal education for girls.

Chang graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in art and anthropology. Her short films have been presented at APAture Film Night in 2003 and the Women of Color Film Festival in 2004.

Tow is a digital media producer and Web consultant who graduated from Stanford University in 1997 with a degree in symbolic systems. An accomplished photographer, his work has been published in the New York Times, Stanford magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle.

The UTSA East Asia Institute promotes appreciation and understanding of East Asian societies and cultures through research, outreach, networking, education, student-faculty exchange, and business development and cooperation. The institute organizes seminars, workshops, lectures, conferences, film festivals and art exhibitions as well as bringing in performing art groups from China, Japan, Korea and other Asian nations. The institute encourages faculty research collaborations within UTSA and with participating East Asian university researchers. For more information, call 210-458-4943 or e-mail eai@utsa.edu.

USC Screening Recap


Autumn Gem at USC

Our last screening on this Fall SoCal 2010 tour was held at the University of Southern California. I think the last time I was on campus was back in high school, when my school did a tour of West Coast colleges and universities.

Our sponsor was the USC US-China Institute, with Clayton Dube, Linda Truong, and Ada Tseng helping to organizing the screening. These three originally came from UCLA, which is the rival school to USC. That’s akin to the Stanford-Berkeley rivalry up here in the Bay Area. We joke at the beginning of our presentation how we show how Stanford and Berkeley can co-exist in matrimony. It always gets a laugh out of the crowd, especially when they can relate to it themselves.

Read the rest of this post and see the photos »

Association for Asian Studies Western Conference Screening Recap


Autumn Gem at Cal State Northridge

The 48th annual Western Conference of the Association for Asian Studies was held between October 22-23 at California State University, Northridge. The theme of this year’s conference was “Translating Asia: Past, Present, & Future.”

Northridge experienced a large 6.7 magnitude earthquake back in January 17, 1994. I may be mixing up my earthquakes, but I seem to recall being home in San Diego during that time. Duck and cover is something ingrained in every California’s mind, but I remember distinctly being frozen in fear in my bed as the quake went on for just under a minute. The earthquake’s epicenter was just two miles away from CSUN’s campus, and it caused $400 million dollars in damages; the rebuilding project was finally completed in 2007. As a student at Stanford in the mid-90’s, I saw how long it took for repairs to be completed; it seemed every quarter there was another building that was closed to do earthquake repairs or retrofitting.

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Chinese Association of Victoria Screening


Chinese Association of Victoria Screening

On Sunday night, we had a screening at the Chinese Association of Victoria. In the late afternoon, Rae and I took the train from Flinders Station to Wantirna, a suburb of Melbourne. Lillian and Rex Lai picked us up from Blackburn Station and drove us to the CAV. The association was founded back in 1982 by a group of 30-40 Chinese from Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia immigrants who shared common objectives for the future of Chinese in their newly adopted country of Australia. After meeting in members’ homes and rented facilities for several years, they opened up the CAV Centre in Wantirna in 1995.

It was at the CAV Centre where we held our screening. We always enjoy showing the film to Chinese organizations such as these, because their primary membership base are often people from our parents’ generation. One of the things that I enjoy asking is how they came to the decision to leave their country of birth to immigrate to Australia or the United States. As we take Autumn Gem to additional international locations, we’ll be asking this question more and more. I find it fascinating to think how one decision changed the course of history for them and their families. As first-generation American born Chinese, we have been fortunate to have grown up in relative prosperity. The decisions we made in our early twenties pale in comparison to those our parents faced. We owe a great deal to them for their sacrifice in providing us a better tomorrow!

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Australia-China Friendship Society Screening


Screening in Melbourne

On Friday morning, we got on an airplane from Sydney to Melbourne. The flight was a little over an hour long, and it reminded me of the trip from San Diego to the Bay Area. Upon arriving, we noticed a number of people wearing black and white striped outfits. At the time of this post’s writing, the Grand Final game for Australia Rules Football is happening right now just a mile away in the Melbourne Cricket Ground Stadium. Earlier today, we walked to the stadium and waded through the throngs of Magpie and Saints fans who are now eagerly cheering for their respective teams. If the Chargers ever made it back to the Super Bowl, would I be so enthusiastically dressed in blue and gold? You bet!

The previous evening, we had a screening that was sponsored by the Australia-China Friendship Society and the Confucius Institute. The film was shown at the Carrillo Gantner Theatre in the Sidney Myer Asia Centre at the University of Melbourne. The venue had a great projector system which showed the film in glorious HD. There was also an Elmo overhead projector, which I used to demonstrate our Autumn Gem Preview application for the iPad.

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Bondi Beach


Bondi Beach

Following our short visit to the Sydney Opera House, my uncle took us to lunch over at Bondi Beach. Located 7km from the city center, Bondi Beach is a very popular beach that reminded me of beaches in La Jolla where I grew up. I don’t think I ever appreciated how amazing La Jolla was until I came back to San Diego during my college summers. Seeing the Pacific Ocean open up as one exits Highway 52 is a lovely and amazing sight. I do wonder what it would be like to live in one of those houses just on the waterfront. Would I become desensitized to the view over time or would I remain captivated everyday with the brilliant blue sea?

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Sydney Opera House


Sydney Opera House

Before our screening at the University of Sydney, we spent a few hours in the morning and afternoon doing some sightseeing. At the Sydney Opera House, we had a good view of people climbing up the Harbor Bridge. That might be a fun thing to do when we are back in Sydney next weekend. The Opera House was as striking up close and personal as it was in the photographs and videos I had seen of it prior.

The city of Sydney was very beautiful and very racially diverse. In many ways, Sydney and Melbourne remind us of the San Francisco Bay Area where we are from. The ocean’s right there, and nature is just a short drive away from the city centers. Great food from nations across the globe are present too. We could certainly see ourselves living in Sydney — or at least visiting it again!

Check out some photos we took of the Sydney Opera House.

University of New South Wales Screening


Rae at the University of New South Wales

We had a screening at the University of New South Wales yesterday afternoon. Thanks to Professor Haiqing Yu who set up our first screening of Autumn Gem on international soil! We had mostly academics and professors at the screening, and this led to a very good discussion about how best to promote and distribute our film to educational markets. We’re beginning a big push to get Autumn Gem in 2011, namely because it’s the 100-year anniversary of the fall of the Qing Dynasty. We’re betting that many people will be wondering, “What was the role of women in the early 20th century?” We want the answer to be to watch Autumn Gem!

Before the trip, I was thinking about leaving the laptop at home and bringing just the iPad to run our Keynote presentation and present the movie. I’m glad that I didn’t, because I needed the MacBook Pro to interface with the projector in the Robert Webster Building. The resolution was locked to 1280 pixels wide, and I couldn’t find a way to change that from the projector control panel. The iPad’s VGA adapter outputs at 1024×768, so everything looked stretched on the screen. Switching to the laptop and setting the resolution to 1280×768 fixed things. The takeaway from all of this? Always bring a backup!

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