7.12.08 C4 Film Screening: Gate of Heavenly Peace 天安门

When: July 12, 2008 (begins 12:00 pm)
Where: Chinese Culture Center, 750 Kearny St, 3rd Floor, San Francisco
Admission: $5 public, $3 member

tian-an-menC4 is pleased to present “Gate of Heavenly Peace” (1995), a film by Carma Hinton & Richard Gordon. This film will be the longer version of 189 minutes, played in some Mandarin & English with English subtitles.

“Gate of Heavenly Peace” (1996) is a feature-length documentary about the 1989 protest movement, reflecting the drama, tension, humor, absurdity, heroism, and many tragedies of the six weeks from April to June in 1989. The film reveals how the hard-liners within the government marginalized moderates among the protesters (including students, workers and intellectuals), while the actions of radical protesters undermined moderates in the government.

Please note that we will no longer be hosting a panel discussion as our China Earthquake Relief Fundraiser is now being held the same night, and we require additional set up time between events. Thanks for your understanding.

For more information about C4, and a listing of the entire year’s program, visit our 2008 Film Series page.

地點:舊金山中華文化中心,kearny 街750號,3樓

C4將于下一季榮幸為各位朋友帶來由卡玛和高富贵拍攝的電影《天安门》(1995)。 此片將为未被广泛放映的189分钟加长版本,以部分國語和英文對白,英文字幕放映。

了解更多有關C4信息,以及整年的節目安排表,請登陸我們的網頁查詢2008 Film Series page.

For a sample of what will follow the screening, here is a review from a CCC member.

At just over three hours, The Gate of Heavenly Peace is a dense film packed with people, events, and ideology surrounding China’s Tiananmen Square episode of 1989. As with any documentary dealing with such an explosive set of events, the question must be asked: “Who does this film portray as ‘right’?”

Well, the filmmakers clearly empathize more with the protesters, but that is not to say that the all government officials are vilified, and all students are seen as heroes. At its heart, The Gate of Heavenly Peace is a documentary of the destructive forces of extremism, and there was a mix of moderates and extremists on both sides of the protest. In some ways, the film can actually been seen as a sounding board for the moderates whose voices were drowned or ignored as events at Tiananmen escalated. As would be expected this includes teachers and students, but the camera even meets moderate government officials, such as Zhao Ziyang, with a degree of compassion.

Though it is done very gradually during the film, The Gate of Heavenly Peace also draws out a repeating cycle of behavior, reasserting itself among each new generation. Reaching back as far as 1919, a particular historical pattern is shown in which those people, usually youth, feeling frustrated and left out of the system revolt. These revolutionaries incite change and become the leaders of the latest movement, only to go on to censure and repress others in order to maintain the new status quo. As the film states, ” More than once, Deng [Xiaoping] had suffered from the absolute power wielded by top leaders in China, but his reforms stopped short of limiting his own power… faced with a crisis he reached for the old weapons”. The communist party is depicted as the main stage on which this pattern is played out, but several incidents of students intimidating their less powerful peers are the film’s attempt to show the seeds of this pattern beginning to bloom among the student movement.

Again, who does this film portray as in the right? The answer is this: though The Gate of Heavenly Peace’s sympathies lean toward the students, the main culprit of the movie is not necessarily the government itself, but the influence of extremists on either side of the square, and China’s self-defeating pattern of political behavior.