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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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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Life Matters Interview at ABC Radio

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There’s a popular public radio program in the United States called All Things Considered; in Australia, a similar program is called Life Matters on the Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio station. We were interviewed by Sydney-based program host, Richard Aedy, in the Melbourne station on Tuesday morning prior to our screening at Deakin University. This was our second radio interview, the first being at 3CR Community Radio 855 AM in Melbourne.

I think I speak for most people that hearing my own voice played back to me sounds odd. Do radio hosts, such as Richard, who have such soothing and melodic voices, feel the same way?

The actual interview will be broadcast next week, and we’ll try to get a podcast or MP3 of the interview that we can link to in this article. Until then, check out the photos from ABC Station!

Here are photos from our radio interview on the Life Matters program at ABC Radio.

Chinese Association of Victoria Screening

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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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Stony Brook University Screening Recap

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Stony Brook University screening of Autumn Gem

The Spring 2010 Autumn Gem Tour featured 13 screenings in 18 days. Our final stop before returning to the Bay Area was at State University of New York at Stony Brook on Long Island. Saying goodbye to my relatives in New Jersey, we took an early morning train to New York’s Penn Station. We didn’t head immediately to Long Island, as I had to make a quick jaunt over to the All Things Digital “East Coast Office” in Midtown. The differences between the two cities of Boston and New York were readily apparent as we walked between the towering skyscrapers. Boston had more of an old-time colonial and working class feel to it, whereas New York had a more hustle and bustle, white-collar feel. I can understand how intense a rivalry can develop between these two cities (esp. in sports); the variations here are more apparent than those between Northern California and Southern California cities.

We spent just an hour inside the News Corp. building before leaving to return back to Penn Station for our Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train ride. I didn’t realize the News Corp. building had a subway stop in the basement — convenient! I’m very fortunate that I’m able to work remotely while on tour. We couldn’t have produced Autumn Gem without having the flexibility to work virtually anywhere, be it in China, Las Vegas or the East Coast. My motto is “Have Internet, will travel!”

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Brookdale Community College Screening Recap

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Brookdale Community College

The previous day’s double feature, coupled with the lengthy and hectic travel to get to New Jersey, left us pretty tired. But, we were now on the home stretch and nothing would get in the way of our completing this tour! Fortunately, the next screening at Brookdale Community College was extremely well organized. Linda Wang and her students in the Brookdale Asia Society were very proactive in getting the word out to students and the outside community. We also got great publicity from the World Journal and from my uncle’s friends and colleagues. As a result of their efforts, we saw a large crowd of about 120-130 people at the screening. Asia Society even brought a popcorn maker, which brought an authentic movie viewing experience to the evening!

The night kicked off with an overview of Chinese history during the time of Qiu Jin by Michelle, a member of Brookdale Asia Society. This helped set the stage for our film, which was shown on dual projector screens in the room.

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Montclair State University

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Autumn Gem at Montclair State University

A short while after our first East Coast tour, we got an email from Montclair State University asking us if we would like to screen the film. It was this email and screening around which we scheduled our Spring 2010 tour. By locking in the date early on, we were able to plan all the stops before and after. For instance, knowing that we didn’t have to be in New Jersey until the sixth of April, we were able to schedule the Southwest and Maryland/Massachusetts portions of the tour. There’s a saying about beginning with the end in mind, and we followed that to a hilt!

After lunch at Kean University, Rae and I hopped back into our rental car and drove further up the highway to Montclair. As with the past few days, the weather was unusually warm for this time of year on the East Coast, and we saw many people wearing what amounted to summer clothes. On the day we left to return home to the Bay Area, the weather suddenly went from 80 degrees to 50-60 degrees! I doubt many of them are wearing t-shirts and shorts now!

Before the screening, Professor Roberta Friedman told us that we would be interviewed at the DuMont Television Station. We felt like television or movie stars while sitting in the studio, which had an uncanny resemblance to a talk show set. I wish we had a setup like this when we were filming our interior scenes! As we stated in our presentation, we built a set in our garage for the film. Because space was so cramped inside the garage, we could only film from the garage-door side. To get around this limitation, we rearranged the furniture and hung up different scroll paintings on the walls. And ta da! We had a “different” room! It would have been a whole lot better, however, if we had access to a setup like in DuMont!

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Kean University Screening Recap

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Autumn Gem at Kean University

Tuesday was a double feature day, with two screenings at Kean University and Montclair State University in New Jersey. We started our journey right after our screening at Wellesley College in MA. Professor Joseph drove us to the train station where we took the MBTA back to Boston’s South Station. We had several hours to burn, since our Megabus to New York’s Penn Station wouldn’t depart until midnight! For several hours, we sat away in the bus terminal next to some power outlets. I charged up all of my devices while using my iPad which I hid in behind a newspaper. No need to attract any would-be thieves late at night!

While sitting in the waiting area for our bus to arrive, we had a great conversation about fate and destiny with Fay, a lawyer who was returning to Boston after a day trip in NY. Maybe I’ve watched Terminator 2 a little too much, but to a degree, I believe that fate is something that you make for yourself. How you react to particular situations and life experiences is entirely up to you. You can be a boat floating down in the stream of life, or you can grab a paddle and start steering your own path!

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