Outside the Great WallVIEW EVENT DETAILS
Asia Society Chinese Arts Documentary Series
Outside the Great Wall
(2010 / Japan / Dir. Han Guang / 118 minutes/ In Chinese with English narration and subtitles)
Screening at 6:30PM
Close at 8:30PM
This documentary features interviews with 12 prominent Chinese writers, activists, and artists living in exile, from Nobel Prize-winning writer Gao Xingjian in Paris and novelist Zheng Yi in Washington, to poet Huang Xiang and journalist Hu Ping in New York, Tiananmen student leaders Wang Dan, Zhang Boli, and Xu Wenli, one of the founders of the first independent political party in China.
The film focuses especially on Zheng Yi, a quiet and deeply reflective novelist, “My heart is not here. In fact, I am living in China. I have nothing more than a desk here in the US,” says Zheng. Severed from his readers, exile has forced him to examine what it means to write, and for whom. Zheng believes that “a writer’s existence is not a political one. If my presence in the world has any value, it’s a spiritual value. If a writer succumbs to the hard times, if he can no longer endure exile and submits to the authorities, he surrenders the value of his existence.”
The collage of wide-ranging interviews produces a rich montage that explores the meaning of exile, the fundamental human desire for free expression, and the courage of individuals facing up to authority and emerging stronger.
Director Han Guang was born in northern China and attended college in Japan. He won the Asahi Journal Prize for nonfiction writing in 1992 for Auntie So’s Sea. In 2000, Han completed his first documentary Where is Grandma Zheng’s homeland? about the return of a Korean “comfort woman” to her homeland from China. His next film, Gai Shanxi and Her Sisters (2006) depicted sexual slavery in the remote Shanxi Province of China.
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