This past weekend the Yala Maya Kendra, Patan Dhoka in Kathmandu, Nepal hosted a showcase of independent Chinese documentaries, organized by Film Southasia and curated by La Frances Hui of the Asia Society. The films in the program included dGenerate titles Super, Girls!, by Jian Yi, Beijing Besieged by Waste by Wang Jiuliang, Disorder by Huang Weikai, and Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul by Hu Jie.
Unfortunately director Hu Jie, who was scheduled to appear, was prevented by authorities from leaving China, according to a note posted by La Frances Hui on her Facebook account. She also included a letter written by Hu Jie intended to be delivered to the audience attending his screening in Nepal. The letter is translated into English by Hui and reads as follows:
Thanks for coming to watch my film. Due to some bizarre circumstances, even though I have tried very hard, I am not able to come to Nepal, a beautiful and friendly country. I am not able to participate in this film event. And I am not able to take part in face to face exchange with you. What a shame! I am not a professional filmmaker. I was once an air force captain, and I had studied at an art academy. I could have become a painter because I love painting. But when I saw human sufferings and the painful past and present, I kept asking myself: What is art? What is my relationship with art?
Once I acquired a very simple family-style video camera. I began to use it to film things happening around me. I realized that this was the artistic medium between me and reality. Later, I used this little camera to enter a not so distant past. I pushed open a door that had previously sealed off history. Behind that door are victims’ corpses, cries and sobs, blood and hidden truths.
I need courage, which I have being a 15-year army veteran. I also have health. I also need an independent mind. I need to know that where I live, there was this history. I am an artist. I need to investigate, document, preserve, and share. Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul is a documentary film through which I entered this history for the very first time.
This is a territory filled with sufferings. But it also propels us to not give up hope. 55 years ago, [Lin Zhao] experienced the Anti-Rightist Movement. Intellectuals were persecuted and 550,000 of them were locked up. 52 years ago, she experienced the Great Leap Forward, which caused the starvation to death of 36 million people. 46 years ago, she experienced 10 years of Cultural Revolution, a fanatical god-worshipping campaign. 10 million people were persecuted to death. 100 million people suffered brutal tortures of body and soul. But the general public has emerged from humiliation and bloodshed to reflect on all this. Since the Cultural Revolution, bleeding and assault continued to occur. But the public’s perspective is changing, and so is society. The public has persistently tried to break away from the chains that confine them. All of this has enabled the birth of documentary film.
Finally, I want to thank everyone for coming. I want to thank the Nepalese film festival organizer [Film Southasia] for providing us with this exchange opportunity. I also want to especially thank Ms. La Frances Hui [film showcase curator]. Because of her recommendation, this film can be presented to Nepalese audiences. Thank you very much.
Hu Jie August 14, 2012, Nanjing, China