In early May 2005, I was one of the three fortunate filmmakers to have been awarded the Top Prize at the China-American Film Festival, organized by The Rose Group. I, along with the other filmmakers, was flown to Beijing, China for a week to attend the Beijing Student Film Festival (BSFF) where my films “A Rainy Day” and “Missing” were screened. In addition, we were also the American delegates to talk about five American classic films, Gone with the Wind, Easy Rider, Taxi Driver, Fargo andPulp Fiction, chosen by BSFF.
As I stepped out of the Beijing International Airport, the mild sun and warm breeze embraced me. I knew then that this was going to be an incredible journey and I was right. It was one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had and a cultural eye-opener. The people I met in China, from the organizer of the festival, Rose, to our host family, and to the Beijing students are the most generous and wonderful. I had the fortune to be able to dine and travel with these Chinese locals, to share and exchange thoughts with them, not just on cinema, but also on food, music, and many more interesting subjects and to just live with them and experience their daily lives for a short period. Each of them gave me warmth and kindness and left me with a fond memory of their wonderful faces. In addition, the places that we visited were just breathtaking and inspiring: the endlessness of the Forbidden City, the grandness of the Great Wall, the avant-garde energy of Dai Shan Zi, just to name a few. Each place reveals the history or the future right in front of my eyes. The festival itself was also amazing. Screening my films in front of the Chinese audience or discussing the classic American films with them was an indescribable experience. I feel privileged that I was there to witness their reaction when watching Easy Rider or Taxi Driver. Their eagerness and hunger for cinema was encouraging and inspiring. And last but not least, this trip also granted me the opportunity to meet other fine filmmakers from America whom I might not have a chance to cross path with. I feel special to be able to share an intense traveling experience like this with fellow American filmmakers and to bond with them as we chatted about our favorite films and filmmakers while taking a grand step up to the endless Great Wall.
As a filmmaker, I’m beyond grateful that I have had this opportunity to travel to a city like Beijing to be touched and inspired by the amazing Beijing residents, the impressive and historical scenery, and the cool and wonderful American filmmakers. The journey to Beijing and the China-American Film Festival have given me an unforgettable experience. Although I know that this wouldn’t be my only time in China, it will always remain my fondest memory as it was the first.