This year’s festival centers around films produced during China’s ill-fated “Great Leap Forward.” Beginning in 1958, the Great Leap Forward was the response to Chairman Mao Zedong’s call to transform China into a thriving communist society. However, within four years, the Great Leap Forward failed, resulting in famine, starvation and death.
Despite its ultimate failure, the movement had a large affect on the Chinese film industry. Production of films increased compared to the years leading up to the movement, and a number of lasting classics were made during the four years.
“Collectively, these features idealize Chinese economy and society to an exaggerated degree, but at the same time also capture the vigorous and patriotic enthusiasm that accompanied the movement,” said Greg Lewis, history professor and Asian Studies program director.
Six of the eight films have been translated by Lewis, who was honored with a Fulbright Scholarship in 2010 to travel to China to research and write about the history of Chinese cinema. “I always felt lucky that we could have such great films to subtitle,” Lewis said. “I still field requests a few times each year for scholars that would like to use a particular film or group of films for their teaching or research.”
The first of the eight films will be “Diary of a Nurse,” or “Hushi riji” in Chinese, which tells the story of a nurse who gives up a comfortable life in Shanghai with her fiancé to work in remote areas of China.
|Sept. 4:||“Diary of a Nurse/Hushi riji”|
|Sept. 11:||“The Unfailing Radio Wave/Yongbu shaoshide dianbo”|
|Sept. 18:||“Li Shuangshuang”|
|Oct. 2:||“My Day Off/Jintian wo xiuxi”|
|Oct. 9:||“Our Village Youth/Women cunli de nianginren”|
|Oct. 23:||“Women of the Great Leap Forward/Wan zi gian zongshi chun”|
|Nov. 6:||“Red Detachment of Women/Hongse niangzijun”|
|Nov. 20:||“The Lin Family Shop”|
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