Travel Thoughts – Visiting Beijing

Some thoughts from my time in Beijing:

Getting to know the vibrant film community here in Beijing through the China Women’s Film Festival and the community organizers at the Crossroads Center. The opening ceremony begins this evening.

China Women’s Film Festival opened with stirring images about women’s continued struggles worldwide. I was particularly impressed by the forthright address by the UN representative in China who had an extraordinary grasp of the issues. Saw a great film on the Chinese lesbian film director from the 1940s Esther Eng.

Post #3 from Beijing: I meet an art critic Wang Zhang Wen at the regular weekly NGO meeting at the Crossroads Center in the city’s old hutong neighborhood. In response to my dislike for the famous but rather commercial 798 art district, he offers to take me to the Songzhuang art district on the edge of the city. We go the next day and I discover an incredible live/work area with studios for 5000 artists! If only NYC could offer a community like this that is affordable too! We visit Wang’s cabaret style cafe The Chestnut Tree where he hosts experimental films and readings. He offers coffee from from dainty cups and saucers and tells us that the cafe is named for the Chestnut Tree Cafe in 1984. This was the place, according to the character Winston, where thought criminals spent their time. “Under the spreading Chestnut Tree I sold you and you sold me.”

Post #4 from Beijing: Today I screened Your Day Is My Night to a great, really insightful audience in Bejing as part of the China Women’s Film Festival. later I was on a panel with four brilliant feminist film scholars. What a wonderful, feisty, compassionate group including Yang Hui from Beijing Film Academy, Yushan Huang from Taiwan University of the Arts, Yu Min Mei and Juan Jiang. We all responded to the question “What is a woman’s film?” And on our journey talked about the films of Barbara Hammer, Trinh T Minh-ha, Yvonne Rainer, Susan Sontag, Jane Campion, and many others

China post #6: Shanghai screening tonight of my 1991 film “The House of Science” at a women’s bookstore. All thanks to the nuanced translations of Lesley Yiping Chin who is so capable of articulating the poetry of Gertrude Stein and other mysteries in Chinese.

I saw Liu Chuang “Segmented Landscape” at the Shanghai Art Biennale and was transformed by the way that the work made me think about security, safety, complacency and fear.