For the radio program The World produced by Public Radio International, reporter Matthew Bell profiles Hu Jie, a Chinese independent filmmaker who “points his camera at the darkest moments in Communist Party history.”
Bell casts Hu’s work amidst the recent news of an ex-Communist Party Red Guard apologizing for the killing of her teacher during the Cultural Revolution, an incident examined in Hu’s documentary Though I Am Gone. Bell interviews Hu about the reasons for his explorations into the hidden stories of China’s recent history:
Many stories from China’s recent past, of course, will never be told. Hu told me that only a handful of people in China are making independent historical films. And in his own experience, most people who Hu approaches won’t agree to speak with him. People are just too nervous about talking on camera and taking the risk of getting into trouble. But the ones who do tell their stories, Hu said, these people are real heroes.
“They suffered through so much horror and violence,” Hu said. “Then, they recounted those experiences honestly and calmly.
“If I had never made these documentaries, no one would know how these individuals lived through such tragedy with resourcefulness and energy, and a sense human dignity. I find these personal stories inspiring,” he said.
Bell also interviews dGenerate’s Karin Chien on Hu Jie’s relevance to contemporary Chinese filmmaking:
“Hu Jie is one of the most important filmmakers in China… It’s dangerous to look at the past,” Chien explained. “I don’t think it’s a question of whether Chinese audiences want it or not, I think it comes down to control of information, you know, control of the grand narrative.”
Listen to the radio program or read the report on the Public Radio International website.