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.

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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.

Autumn Gem Coming To University of Texas, San Antonio

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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.

Women in Asia Conference Screening Recap

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Women in Asia Conference at ANU

Our final screening1 while in Australia was held at the Tenth International Women in Asia Conference at The Australian National University in the capital city of Canberra. The theme of this year’s conference was Crisis, Agency, and Change, certainly apt descriptors for the time that Qiu Jin lived at the turn of the last century. I attended a panel on Raden Kartini, Indonesia’s first feminist. Kartini lived and died around the same time as Qiu Jin. Like her Chinese counterpart, she left behind many writings (from her correspondences with European friends) in which she commented on the condition of Indonesia women. Certainly during this timeframe, there was a lot of activity in the women’s movement across the world! We had never heard about Kartini before this conference, much like non-Chinese have never heard about Qiu Jin.

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Deakin University Screening Recap

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Deakin University screening

On Tuesdsay, we took the Metlink Tram to Burwood where one of the campuses of Deakin University is located. Deakin is a relatively new university, having only been established 25 years ago. It has campuses in several locations, including Geelong, the site of the 2010 Worlds Cycling Championship happening this week. Had we more time, it would have been fun to see some of the top racers in the world duke it out — drug-free hopefully — for the rainbow colored jerseys.

In contrast to the RMIT University screening the previous day, we had a lot more staff and outside guests come to this screening. There were several friends of my parents’ friend Bella in attendance. In addition, two of Li Jing’s compatriots from the Beijing Wushu Team were present. We have enjoyed meeting and making connections with the extended family of all those who contributed to the development of Autumn Gem!

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RMIT University Screening Recap

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RMIT University screening of Autumn Gem

On Monday, we had a screening at RMIT University in downtown Melbourne. The city features a wide range of architectural styles, and the RMIT student center was definitely a unique example. One of the buildings looked like it was covered with green slime! Our screening was organized by Professor Lisa French in conjunction with her “Asian Cinemas” class. Lisa’s research interest is in gender and feminist issues in film, so we thought our film would be a good fit. The audience consisted mostly of students, as well as our friend Jen and Melinda O’Connor from 3CR Radio, who had interviewed us a few days ago.

We had our first technical glitch during this screening. The VGA connector down by the stage wouldn’t sync resolutions properly with either my MacBook Pro or iPad. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to try setting up the computer in the projection booth, so we verbally gave the Keynote presentation and played the movie via the DVD. The mantra that I’ve been saying in previous posts holds, “Always have a backup!”

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