8/29/08 C4 Screening “Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul” 寻找林昭的灵魂

When: August 29, 2008 (Friday, 6:00 pm)
Where: Chinese Culture Center, 750 Kearny St, 3rd Floor, San Francisco
Admission Fee: $5 public, $3 member

C4 is proud to present the US Premier “Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul”, AKA In Search of Lin Zhao’s Soul 寻找林昭的灵魂 (2004) in Mandarin with English subtitles.

This documentary film is about the outstanding Beijing University student Lin Zhao, who was labeled a rightist when she criticized the Anti-Rightist Campaign in 1950s. She was imprisoned and later executed. In Philip Pan’s recent book “Out of Mao’s Shadow”, two chapters were written about this documentary, quoting the filmmaker Hu Jie about Lin Zhao: “(the film is) inspired by her courage, and her uncompromising sense of justice… It was extraordinary that a great woman like Lin Zhao once lived in China… I thought she was a national treasure.”

This film is co-presented by WACSF (World Affairs Council San Francisco),AAWAA(Asian American Women Artists Association), IMOW (International Museum of Women), OACC(Oakland Asian Cultural Center), CCS(Center for Chinese Study) in UC Berkeley.

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


這部紀錄片記述了北京大學一名出色的學生–林昭。 20世紀50年代,由於批判當時的反右傾,她被打成右派分子,被投入監獄並最終被處死。在潘公凱最近出版的”走出毛澤東的影子”一書中,有兩個章節是描寫 這部紀錄片的。書中引用了該片製片人胡杰對於林昭的評價:”(這部電影)的靈感來自於她的勇敢,以及對真理的不妥協態度…能有像林昭這樣偉大的女性生活在中國是在是件幸事…我認為她是國家的財富。”

Co-presented by:

Here are some excerpts from an interview with Hu Jie, the director of “In Search of Lin Zhao’s Soul.” For the full interview, please visit here. You can also read Philip Pan (China correspondent for Washington Post and Author of Out of Mao’s Shadow)’s take on the movie here.

SR: How did you discover Lin Zhao?

HJ: Actually I discovered her story by chance. One day a few friends and I were hanging out. One of them said his parents were Lin Zhao’s classmates. I asked who Lin Zhao was. He told me that Lin Zhao was a student at Beijing University in the 1950s. Because of some poems, she was arrested and put in gaol. In gaol she continued writing. She did not have any ink, so she wrote many things with her blood. In the end, she was executed.

His words were simple but very shocking to me. I had never heard this kind of story: that one was arrested for writing poetry and killed for writing books with blood. I never thought that in Mao’s China there was this kind of people who would fight against the Communist Party, literally with blood. I thought that writing with blood could only write a few characters, but I was told that Lin Zhao wrote thousands and thousands characters with blood.

This story was so shocking that I began to collect information and materials about Lin Zhao. I wanted to know her.

By then I was working at the Centre for Pictures of Xinhua News Agency. I had worked there less than three years, shooting those short films about migrant workers. After I began to conduct research about Lin Zhao, one day my boss in Xinhua News Agency talked to me and told me that I could not work there anymore. He was very serious and said, “What you are doing, you know best. We do not want to know. You have two choices. One is to be fired from your job; the other is to resign by yourself.” I thought it would be terrible to be fired, so I chose to resign. They did not tell me why, but I know clearly: I was doing research on Lin Zhao. They also told me that they did like me very much because I was one of the major hands at the Centre, but they could not allow me to continue working there due to pressure from above. Who is above Xinhua News Agency? I understand that must be The Bureau of Public Safety.

SR: What do you think about this film? How significant is it for the Chinese people?

HJ: I think that Looking for Lin Zhao’s Soul is the first documentary to record and reflect the historical periods of the anti-Rightist campaign and the Cultural Revolution in China. It is the first time that we Chinese used documentary films to reflect history. However, when I was making the film I did not think about this issue. Now I see the issue clearly. Indeed, there is a huge blank in Chinese history, such as the death by starvation for 40 million people from 1959–1962, the Cultural Revolution, and others, because in China there is neither discussion about these historical periods nor documentary films recording those historical events. Perhaps Wu Wenguang’s film, 1966: My Experience as a Red Guard (1993), is the only documentary film that touches upon these issues.

After I made the film about Lin Zhao, I realized that there is a massive resource for documentary film in China. The resource awaits us to discover. That is the history including before and after the anti-Rightist campaign, the anti-Rightist campaign itself, the Great Leap Forward, the starvation, and the Cultural Revolution. I feel we could and should have numerous films only about the Cultural Revolution, such as the massacres, the fighting among people in the Cultural Revolution. I believe that all of these can be objects for documentary film. I now go to colleges to give lectures, and I always tell students this idea. I feel that we should record this history with many, many peoples’ participation. Because the Chinese official authority does not want us to remember the history, we non-official people should remember on our own. I told students, “Go to ask your parents and grandparents how they starved, how they took part in weapon fighting in the Cultural Revolution. Go record their words. If we do this for five years, we would make a great contribution to Chinese history.”