Hong Kong Feature Film on Qiu Jin to be Released


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!


UC Santa Cruz Screening Recap


Rae at UC Santa Cruz

First off, apologies for the tardiness in getting this entry up. After the UC Irvine screening, I realized that I never wrote about the UC Santa Cruz showing that was held on January 25, 2010. This happened during the big winter storms here in the Bay Area. Fortunately, when we drove down to Santa Cruz, it wasn’t raining too much; it helped that we took Highway 17 when it wasn’t busy with commuter traffic. I’ve driven in that once or twice, and it’s not fun when there’s no rain, let alone a torrential downpour!

Department of History Professor, Gail Hershatter, greeted us when we arrive at the University. We had dinner with several of her graduate students before heading over to Merrill College Room 102. Due to the weather, Rae and I weren’t sure how many people would come, but we were pleasantly surprised to have over thirty students and faculty members present.

At the time of this writing, we’re getting ready to embark on our two and a half week tour to Las Vegas, Arizona, Maryland, Boston, New Jersey and New York. I’ve reread my packing strategy and packing recap posts from our October 2009 tour, and I’ve been making the necessary adjustments to get our load down to just two carry-on items for the entire trip. I’ll have a full post about this before we leave. In the meantime, here are a few photos from our UC Santa Cruz screening.

Here are photos from our screening at UC Santa Cruz.

American Association of University Women Screening Recap


Adam and Rae with Qiu Jin's great-grandnephew!

This past Saturday, we screened Autumn Gem at the Willow Glen Branch Library in San Jose. The event was sponsored by the local chapter of the American Association of University Women, an organization dedicated to advancing “equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.” Marilyn, Linda, Mary, and the rest of the AAUW staff did an excellent job advertising the event. We filled up the Community Room to capacity with 63 people! Also in attendance was Kien-Wei, our friend who played one of the Qing soldiers in the film.

During the question and answer session, a question was asked about the whereabouts of Qiu Jin’s descendants. I mentioned that we’ve tried to locate Qiu Jin’s granddaughter, but have not yet been successful. “You just can’t enter Qiu Jin’s Granddaughter” in Google or Facebook and hope to get the address!” Imagine our surprise near the end of the Q&A when a Chinese gentleman in the front row raised his hand and stated that he was the great grandnephew of Qiu Jin! Charles then explained that he was very moved and honored watching our documentary. Suffice it to say, we were honored to have him at our screening!

Read the rest of this post and view the photos »

Stanford University Screening Recap and Photos


Autumn Gem at Stanford University

With over a month to prepare for our Stanford screening tonight, we made sure we got the word out about the film through as many channels as possible. The Center for East Asian Studies was the co-sponsor for the event, and they helped flyer the campus, email various mailing lists, and list the screening on Stanford’s Events web site. Stefan from the Palo Alto Independent Films Group brought a sizeable contingent from his Meetup group to the showing. Another Meetup group brought a large group of Asian professionals. This week’s article in the Palo Alto Weekly also produced a big draw tonight. By my estimations, there were over 150 people of all ages at tonight’s screening of Autumn Gem. The lower portion of Cubberley was so packed it reminded me when I was a frosh taking Humanities in the very same auditorium! Thanks to everyone who came out to see our film!

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City College Screening Recap and Photos


We had a couple of firsts at our Autumn Gem screening at City College of San Francisco yesterday. The place was packed, thanks to the combined efforts of the Asian Studies, Asian American Studies, Cinema and Women’s Studies Departments; we had over 90 people in attendance. The second first is one that I’m not all that proud about; we had our first technical mishap during the screening of the film!

Normally, we play the movie off of Rae’s MacBook Pro. Everything was going fine until the midway point in the film when the video completely froze and the audio started repeating! QuickTime X was completely unresponsive and force quitting (command-option-escape) would not work. Fortunately, I had also brought my own MacBook Pro as a backup for this very situation. While Rae answered a few questions from the crowd, I quickly got my MBP set up with the projector and sound system. The rest of the screening went off without any major issues. Phew!

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Packing Recap


Now that our tour is over, we’ve identified some things we would have changed regarding our packing strategy (see photo to right). We often felt like we were a rock band traveling the country during this tour. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any roadies to help carry our gear! So, because it’s just the two of us, we have to be extra vigilant and ruthless with regards to what we bring with us.

Packing - What We Brought

If you recall from our previous post, Rae carried our clothes and toiletries in her REI Traverse backpack, and I carried all the computers, mobile Internet, camera flash, and power adapters in a Rickshaw Bagworks Medium Commuter Messenger Bag. We took turns dragging around a single Pelican 1510 Carry-On Case that contained 300 DVDs, assorted cables, papers, and my 5D Mark II camera. So, what worked and what didn’t?

For starters, we would try to leave the Pelican at home next time. While ultra-durable and somewhat capacious, it’s also quite heavy and bulky to travel with. When fully loaded, the 1510 tired one’s arm after prolonged periods. Similarly, the Rickshaw bag held a surprising amount of gear, but it too became very heavy to wear over time, even with the critical cross strap (used to distribute the weight more evenly on my body). For the next trip, I think I would try to load everything into my LowePro CompuTrekker AW camera/laptop backpack. I would have to reduce the number of DVDs that we bring with us, but at least 120-140 would fit comfortably along with one computer, my camera, flash, cables, modem and accessories.

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University of Pennsylvania Screening Recap and Photos


Rae and Adam outside the Annenberg Center at UPenn.

Our last stop was at the University of Pennsylvania. Following the screening at the Evergreen Senior Club in Delaware, Uncle Don drove us to Philadelphia. World Series fever was in the air, as we saw many banners for the Phillies, as well as people sporting Phillies jackets, hats and shirts.

We had an intimate screening, similar to our first stop on this tour in Madison, Wisconsin. Despite the small size, the audience was very enthusiastic about the film; I bet the cold weather and World Series fever contributed to the small showing; next time, we’ll mobilize and get those Women’s Studies and Chinese Literature professors to require their students to watch the film! Rae and I have definitely taken notes on how to get more people in attendance at our screenings; we’ll be testing out our theories in the ones coming up at Stanford (November 30) and Berkeley (December 3).

Among the audience members was my Stanford friend, Andreea. The two of us were the Theme Associates in La Maison Française our senior year. I have fond memories working with her on in-house classes, wine and cheese nights, and movie nights at the French House. Good times those were back in 1996-1997! Andreea is now an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the university. Her field of research is in Several Complex Variables, which is one complex variable too much for me!

On this tour, we’ve had all sorts of cuisine — Japanese, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Kosher, East Coast Seafood, Afghan, American, Indian, Farmer’s Market, Dorm Food, Mediterranean, Chicago-style Pizza, New York Street Food and Vietnamese — but not African. Following the screening, Uncle Don, Andreea, Rae and I had dinner at Abyssinia, an Ethiopian Restaurant near the UPenn campus. Though I really wanted to get a Philly Cheese Steak from some street vendor, the lure of injera and doro wot was too hard to pass up!

And with the UPenn screening, we were done! 17 tour stops in 25 days! Rae and I were supremely tired but very happy with the outcome of our tour. Recap of the entire experience to come soon, but in the meantime, some photos from UPenn!

Evergreen Senior Club Recap and Photos


Evergreen Senior Club screening of Autumn Gem

About two weeks ago, Rae’s dad told us to call one of his friends from college who now lives in Delaware. Professor Charles Ih (from the University of Delaware) was very interested in showing Autumn Gem to the Evergreen Senior Club at the Chinese American Community Center in Hockessin, Delaware. The only time that we had available was on the October 28th, our final tour date. We arranged to have the screening at 11:00 am, which would give us enough time to drive over to Philadelphia for our 4:00 pm screening.

We got back late the previous evening from our New York screening. Sleeping only a few hours, we woke up bright and early to drive two and a half hours from New Jersey to Delaware. The drive fortunately was uneventful, unlike the rain storm we drove through coming back from Boston the previous week. The CACC building also houses a Montessori School and Child Care Center during the weekdays. We saw lots of little kids and their parents running around during the screening.

From the CACC web site, the “Evergreen Senior Club is open to Chinese American Community Center (CACC) members 55 years old or older. The club meets weekly at CACC on Wednesday from 9 AM to 6 PM. The mission of the Evergreen Club is to provide activities and services to support and enhance the quality of life of its members and to promote Chinese culture.” When we arrived, the members were busy singing; I bet they enjoyed listening to the three choral pieces in Autumn Gem.

We had a terrific response at the club. Since the club is comprised of people from our parents’ generation, many of them already knew the story of Qiu Jin. There was one gentleman, however, who grew up near where Qiu Jin lived, but who had never heard of her until now! Better late than never! We always get a lively response from audience members familiar with Qiu Jin’s life. Many of them only knew about her nationalist work rather than her feminist work, but they all agree that she is a heroine to the Chinese people.

Rae and I are often asked what motivated us to do Autumn Gem. Growing up as American Born Chinese (ABC), we had never know about Qiu Jin; the idea of a strong, female hero isn’t the first thing that pops in one’s mind when thinking about China. Thus, bringing her story to the Western world and to people from our generation was one of our biggest goals. Doing the film also helped us connect with our own past and the past of our parents and their parents. This has been one of the more rewarding benefits — we’ve been able to develop ever closer relationships with our parents.

Following the screening, we had lunch with the Evergreen members before driving an hour over to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for our final stop on the 2009 Midwest/East Coast tour of Autumn Gem.

Here are photos from the Evergreen Senior Club screening.

New York Screening Recap and Photos


Autumn Gem in New York

During our Pasadena screening, we received a very enthusiastic response from one of the audience members. Ann Lau told us that Qiu Jin was one of her role models and she was very excited to have seen the movie. She was instrumental in setting up our screening in New York. Putting us in touch with Peggy Chane from the Visual Artists Guild, we secured Tuesday’s screening at Tribeca Film Center in record time. Peggy is a great marketer, and she brought a nice sized crowd to the showing. It was also great to see friends and co-workers — Christine, Gaelen, Anand and Sid — on Tuesday night. The event was co-sponsored by the VAG and New York Women in Film and Television. All in all, about 40 people braved the wet weather to watch Autumn Gem.

Tribeca Film Center, as one might expect, has a great projector and audio system. We heard things in the movie that are usually muffled by lesser sound systems! I debated between showing the movie from the DVD or from my laptop. While the uprezzer for the DVD was really good, I still saw more detail from my laptop’s 720p version of the film. So, in the end, we went with the laptop.

There was a big discussion during the Q&A regarding the similarities and/or differences between foot binding and cosmetic surgery. Some in the crowd felt that there was no correlation between the two, arguing that cosmetic surgery is elective whereas foot binding was forced upon women. Others felt that societal pressures might have transformed foot binding into something women felt that they needed to have done on them.

After the screening, several of us went to the Greenwich Street Tavern for drinks. We didn’t stay that long because we had to meet up with Joon-Mo at the famous Joe’s Shanghai. We’ve heard from many people that Joe’s Shanghai has the best shu lam baos. The dumplings were indeed very good, large and juicy. It was good to catch up with Joon-Mo, who’s starting his first year at the Business School at Georgetown. We met up with Sid in Shanghai when we began our filming of Autumn Gem in February of 2008. Now, here we were a year later halfway across the world!

Here are photos from the Visual Artists Guild and New York Women in Film and Television screening.

Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center Screening Recap and Photos


Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center - 885 Washington Street

Our third week on tour concluded with a screening at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center in Boston, Massachusetts. The BCNC is celebrating their 40th anniversary of serving the Chinatown community this year, and the organization is having a celebration gala in a couple of weeks on Saturday, November 7, 2009 at the center’s two buildings at 885 Washington Street and 38 Ash Street. When Rae and I arrived, we initially went to the Washington address and were confused when we couldn’t find anyone who knew about the screening. Fortunately, a passerby told us to go across the street to the other BCNC location. Apologies to anyone who came to the screening who first went to the Washington address!

After setting up the projector and tinkering with the image and color settings, we were ready to go around 12:40. Following an introduction by Carmen Chan from the BCNC, Rae and I gave our 10-minute presentation before starting the film. We had to duck out during the screening to be interviewed by a reporter from the World Journal. We were also interviewed by the Sing Tao Daily after the screening. We’ll try to pick up copies of the newspaper when we’re in New York tomorrow.

We had our most spirited discussion during the Q&A session. There was considerable debate among the attendees about the role of feminism versus nationalism in Qiu Jin’s life. Which was more important of the two? Could the two exist separately or were they intricately entwined within each other. This is the question that scholars have been asking for years about Qiu Jin, and there is no right or wrong answer; it’s up to interpretation and one’s own opinion! It was great to see the guests debating each other during the Q&A; it shows that people are reacting to the film! Here’s a video from the discussion:

In addition there was one scholar in the room who pointed out some potential mistakes in the film that we may want to address in a future screening (and DVD) version of Autumn Gem.

Following the screening, we had a late lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant with my high school buddy, David, and his friends, Jessica, Dawn and Arnold. Aside from my friend Rod in Denver, David is the person whom I’ve known the longest — since elementary school! We reminisced about Spreckels, Country Day, San Diego, playing pool, and about old friends now in high places. I’ve said it many times on this blog, but one of the great benefits of taking Autumn Gem on tour is that we’ve been able to see so many of our friends and relatives. That alone is worth the price of admission!

After lunch, Rae and I braved hard rain and strong winds over nearly five and a half hours as we drove back to New Jersey from Boston. We’re now on the homestretch for this tour, with three more screenings on the docket. We’ve added another screening in Delaware at the Chinese American Community Center in Hockessin on Wednesday. On Monday, we’ll be spending our free day in New York City. Any ideas on what to visit?

Here are photos from the screening at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. Additional photos are provided by Anh Ðào Kolbe.