Documentary series to open at UI

Documentary series to open at UI

URBANA — The AsiaLENS Documentary Film Series will open at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Spurlock Museum with the screening of "Mulberry Child."

The series in Spurlock's Knight Auditorium will focus this season on documentary films that address the cultural revolution in China from different, personal perspectives.

The films also have the secondary theme of exploring broadcast journalism in and about China, both in subject as well as through speaking engagements connected with two of the films.

All the screenings at the museum, 600 S. Gregory St., U, are free and open to the public. The series entries:

— "Mulberry Child," a 2011 film by Susan Morgan Cooper, is based on the memoir by Jian Ping and was written to introduce her American-raised daughter Lisa Xia to the persecution her family faced during the cultural revolution.

At 3 p.m. Tuesday at Spurlock, University of Illinois journalism alumna Xia and her mother will talk in a program titled "Mulberry Child: Bridging a Cultural Divide from Memoir to Film." The two also will be at the screening to introduce the film and participate in the discussion afterward.

— 7 p.m. March 11: "High Tech, Low Life," which follows two of China's citizen-reporters, the young vegetable seller "Zola," who covers censored news stories from the cities, and the retired businessman "Tiger Temple" who makes sense of the past by chronicling the struggles of rural villagers.

Yimin Wang, associate director of the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, will introduce the film and lead the post-screening discussion.

— 7 p.m. April 8: "The Revolutionary," a documentary about the Maoist era and Sidney Rittenberg, an American who assumed an unprecedented role for a foreigner in Chinese politics.

During the catastrophic times of Mao Zedong's last stand to hold on to power and to his political legacy, Rittenberg's personal relationship with China's leaders brought him prominence and a long stay in Beijing's Prison No. 1.

Irv Drasnin, a producer, writer, interviewer and narrator of "The Revolutionary," will introduce the film and lead the post-screening discussion for the film. He also will talk at 4 p.m. April 9 at Spurlock about making the film and how it relates to China today.

AsiaLENS Spring 2014 is presented by the Asian Educational Media Service, an outreach program of the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, Spurlock and the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.

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