George Mason University Recap and Photos

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Autumn Gem at George Mason

Our third stop in three days (three of seven for the week) took us to George Mason University. We had the pleasure of being toured around the campus by Dr. Karl Zhang, Professor of Chinese Modern and Classical Languages at GMU. It turns out that Professor Zhang did his Ph.D. work at Stanford University the same time that I was an undergraduate. Alas, our paths never crossed, as he was a fuzzy in Lit and I was a techie in Symbolic Systems.

Professor Dan Liu arranged for her Chinese Literature class of about 60 people to watch Autumn Gem at the Student Union II on campus. So, add a third way for us to get students to watch our documentary: food, extra credit, or make it a requirement! Among the other guests at the screening was Ken Lee. His grandmother and grandaunt were heavily involved in the revolutionary movement around the time of Qiu Jin. There is a well-known story of the two where they hid weapons and other contraband in a wedding sedan chair while traveling through China.

Again, one of the more frequent questions we’ve received throughout these screenings is what happened to her family after her death. Strangely, in her entire work of several hundred poems, essays and writings, there’s no mention of her family.

It’s early morning right now on Thursday, October 15. We’re off to Oldfields School in Glencoe, MD, for a talk at the boarding school. Then, we travel back south to the University of Maryland, College Park. Tomorrow, we’ll be taking the train over to New Jersey, where we’ll be screening at Princeton. The memories of college applications and my own high school experience are coming back to me. But, that’s a story for tomorrow!

Until then, here are some photos from our showing at George Mason University!

University of Maryland-Baltimore County Recap and Photos

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Autumn Gem at UMBC

We’ve discovered the secret to getting a good turnout at our university screenings: food and extra credit! About 90 students attended the screening at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. Big kudos to Constantine Vaporis, Anna Shields, Rebecca Boehling and all the UMBC professors who got their students to come to the showing. They also did a fantastic job flyer-ing the campus with our Autumn Gem posters.

We got a number of insightful comments and questions from the students. One of them asked how Qiu Jin could be considered a feminist when she was shown to be rejecting her female identity at the same time she fought for women’s rights. Another student wanted to know whether or not Qiu Jin was trying to emulate the male heroic figure or create a modern female heroic figure. There’s no right or wrong answers to these questions. They point to the conflict within Qiu Jin and touch upon why she’s still such a fascinating person to study today.

Professor Boehling made the comment that the actresses playing Qiu Jin both wore makeup during the recreation scenes, even those where Qiu Jin is shown to be wearing Western clothing. She asked whether it was a deliberate decision on our part to do this. The answer is no, we honestly didn’t think too much about makeup during the filming of the documentary. We certainly could have had a stylist on-set to help make the makeup look more natural and less feminine. There were some instances where I used Apple’s Color program to desaturate the colors on the young Qiu Jin’s face, but in general, I generally left things as they were shot.

Following the screening, we went out to dinner at Catonsville Gourmet with Julie, a high school classmate of mine, and Professor Vaporis. Like I said in my earlier posts, we’re really enjoying this trip as we’re able to reconnect with friends and family whom we haven’t seen in many moons. After the next screening at George Mason University, we’ll be heading over to our nation’s capitol to meet up with more friends from high school and college!

Here are photos from the screening at UMBC.

Screening at Columbia College Chicago

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This morning, we departed Madison, Wisconsin, in the seat of a Coach USA bus. Our destination was Chicago, Illinois, and Columbia College Chicago. Switching buses at Janesville, Rae and I slept most of the way to Chicago. When we arrived at Union Station, it was raining outside; good thing that we came prepared with our waterproof jackets and rain-resistant luggage. We took a taxi to Columbia College Chicago building at 1104 S. Wabash Avenue, which houses portions of the Film and Video Department as well as Film Row Cinema where Autumn Gem was later screened. There were many creative types milling around the dining commons, where they were holding a Meet and Greet. Student filmmakers pitched their ideas to their fellow classmates, hoping to snag a few to work on their semester film projects as art directors, cinematographers, casting directors, gaffers, and editors. We certainly could have used some help in those departments; during the production of Autumn Gem, we often felt stretched thin performing all of these tasks between the two of us.

We’ve had some great screening locales, and Film Row Cinema was no exception. Though we had another intimate screening, we had another spirited discussion afterwards. One of the audience members asked why we focused so much on scholars views of Qiu Jin instead of Chinese feminists views on her. While in Hangzhou by the Qiu Jin Monument, we did record some man-on-the-street interviews about people’s perception of Qiu Jin. In the end, however, we felt that those interviews did not fit well within the overall narrative of the film. In addition, adding them in would have extended the running time to over an hour, which we did not want to do. In the final cut, Autumn Gem is aimed at introducing the story of Qiu Jin to someone who has little or no knowledge of her. Perhaps in the future, we’ll include some clips from our Hangzhou interviews on this web site.

Following the screening, we met up with our friends, Ivan, Margaret, Steve, Jeff and Rina. We had authentic Chicago-style pizza for dinner at Lou’s. We’ll be staying in Chicago for a few days before heading out to Champaign-Urbana on Monday.

Here are photos from our screening at Columbia College.