Autumn Gem Article in the World Journal

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We have a new article from David Wang about Autumn Gem, our screening tomorrow at the Chinese Culture Center, and our new iPad textbook, in the World Journal today:


自2007年開始籌畫研究,2009年自費開拍「秋瑾」紀錄片的華裔第二代張蕊(Rae Chang)與先生曹健鏗(Adam Tow),日前完成「秋瑾」(Autumn Gem)電子書,已在蘋果iBook上架。內容不但有文字,還有圖片及電影片段,是一本「多媒體電子書」。「秋瑾」目前在舊金山中華文化中心展出,張蕊和曹健鏗將於本周六,17日上午11時,在中心講解電影及示範電子書。
「秋瑾電子書是我們在開拍電影時,就考慮這麼做的,」曹健鏗表示,拍「秋瑾」前,他回母校史丹福大學的東亞圖書館收集資料;張蕊則回母校柏克萊加大東亞圖書館研究,兩人還訪問過美國的專家學者,以及秋瑾的後代,「無數文字和圖片內容,再加上電影片段,成為今天這本電子書。」

張蕊指出,出版電子書是希望藉著影音、照片、文字綜合起來的多媒體,造就一種新的教育形式,「比如說書中談到秋瑾的時代背景,就可以按書中的連結,去看背景資料,或是電影中的片段。」張蕊表示,未來的教材將會朝向多媒體的方向進行。

張蕊和曹健鏗的中文程度不太好,但因為看了一本介紹「鑑湖女俠」秋瑾(1875-1907)生平的書,兩人不但放下工作,還投資了6萬元拍電影,「想把這位少為人知的中國女權運動先驅者,介紹給西方世界」。

「秋瑾是位非常特別的人物,」張蕊指出,婦女在清朝是沒有地位的,裹小腳、不能讀太多書,「而秋瑾不但追求婦女解放,爭取男女平等,還立志推翻封建王朝,是中國婦女運動的先驅。」張蕊今年6月看到中國第一位上太空的女太空人劉洋,她第一個反應是:「劉洋是現代的秋瑾!」

張蕊和曹健鏗今年3月到現在,跑遍灣區所有圖書館,放映「秋瑾」並舉行座談,向大家介紹秋瑾,「很多老僑說看到他們的上一代;而年輕一代則反應對這段歷史有更多的瞭解。」張蕊表示,「秋瑾」放映總共超過120多場,灣區放映之前,曾在加拿大、夏威夷、澳洲、香港放映過,下個月還將到日本去放映。

「秋瑾」電影及電子書詳情:autumn-gem.com。

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Santa Clara and Hayward Public Libraries Screening Recap

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We’re just hours away from boarding a plane to Hong Kong for our final screenings for 2011. Last week, we had two screenings in public libraries in the San Francisco Bay Area. We showed the film at the Santa Clara City Library and the Hayward Public Library.

Though I’m writing this as I’m furiously packing, it was nice to have some local screenings for a change. The Santa Clara library is five minutes from our house and is the library that we personally go to. Both screenings had very enthusiastic crowds who posed many questions when the lights came back up. We’ve been showing a version of the film that has Chinese subtitles during the spoken English sections. We’ve been working on this version for the past several months in anticipation of our Hong Kong trip.

We’ll be scheduling more screenings at local libraries around the Bay Area in 2012. Check our screenings page for a full list or join our mailing list to get quarterly updates.

And now for some photos from Santa Clara and Hayward.

Southern California Fall 2011 Tour Recap

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It’s been two years since we had our first Autumn Gem screening in Southern California at the Pacific Asia Museum. Since then, we’ve had over one hundred screenings around the world, including stops in Australia, Canada, Texas, the Southwest, the Midwest, and the East Coast.

This past week, we returned to Southern California for a week of screenings at the Cerritos Library, West Covina Library, San Marino Chinese School, Fullerton Library, Diamond Bar Library and Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

As I’ve stated numerous times one of the benefits of traveling with our film is the opportunity to visit with friends and family. In-between screenings, we were hosted by Dave and Audrey and by Rae’s aunt and uncle. We also met up with Rae’s cousin Hans (who played the role of Qiu Jin’s cousin in Autumn Gem), my cousin King-Ming, along with his fiancée Aimee, and Rae’s college friends Ben and Christine in Sherman Oaks.

Following a radio interview at EDI Media in West Covina, we paid a visit to our actress, Li Jing, at her new Wushu Action Star Academy in Temple City. At the San Marino screening, one of Li Jing’s acting colleagues, Peter Kwong, was in attendance. Rae and I remember him as the villainous Rain in Big Trouble in Little China, one of our favorite movies growing up!

Here are photos from our Southern California Fall 2011 screening tour. Our next stop is this Monday and Wednesday at the Santa Clara Library and Hayward Library. Then, we’re off to Hong Kong for several screenings in my parents’ hometown!

Hong Kong Feature Film on Qiu Jin to be Released

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A new feature film on Qiu Jin called “The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake” is opening this week in Hong Kong. It’s directed by Herman Yau and stars Huang Yi as Qiu Jin and veteran actor Anthony Wong as a Qing Dynasty official.

Check out the trailer here:

And here’s our version:

Somehow I think they had a bigger budget. I thought it’d be fun to compare stills from their version with ours. What do you think – any similarities?

Qiu Jin – The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake

Portrayed by Huang Yi (left) and Li Jing (right):

Qiu Jin with swordQiu Jin with sword

Gender Bender

Male attire suits her well.

Qiu Jin in man's suitQiu Jin in man's suit

Wedding Woes

Qiu Jin isn’t too happy with her arranged marriage.

Qiu Jin in arranged marriageQiu Jin in arranged marriage

Family Portrait

At least her husband and kids look like they’re having fun on the left.

Qiu Jin and familyQiu Jin and family

A Talented Writer

Writing was central to Qiu Jin’s life and I’m glad to see this element depicted in the new film. I noticed they include a voice-over of her poetry in the trailer, as we do in ours.

Qiu Jin writingQiu Jin writing

Stirring up Revolutionary Fires in Japan

Qiu Jin in JapanQiu Jin in Japan

Arrest Qiu Jin!

Arrest Qiu JinArrest Qiu Jin

Qiu Jin Makes Her Final Stand

I think their budget could afford more than our four soldiers for the final battle scene:

Qiu Jin Resisting ArrestQiu Jin Resisting Arrest

“The Woman Knight of Mirror Lake” opens on August 25 in Hong Kong. We’ll be showing AUTUMN GEM in Hong Kong as well October 24-28 – check out the full list of screenings here. We’re looking forward to watching the feature film while we’re there – it’ll be interesting to see their version of Qiu Jin!

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.