An Interview with Filmmaker and Artist Hu Jie in the New York Times Review of Books reminds me just how important it is to pay attention and to remain curious: we will be called upon to bear witness to that which we have seen and that which we did not. Indeed, Hu Jie attempts to document histories that at the time could not be documented, such as a series of wood block prints that document rural famine during the Great Leap Forward. Unlike many who lament the loss of material culture during the anti-four olds campaign and the Cultural Revolution, Hu Jie remains focused on the fact that people died as a result of policies and campaigns.
In Searching for Lin Zhao’s Soul (寻找林昭的灵魂) Hu Jie re-membered the harrowing life story of Lin Zhao, a top student from Peking University, who was imprisoned for defending students and leaders persecuted during Mao Zedong’s Anti-Rightist Movement in the late 1950s. A gifted writer, Lin composed endless articles and poems from her cell. Forbidden to use pens, she wrote with a hairpin dipped in her own blood. In 1968 she was executed, her tragic life lost to the margins of history. Trailer below, full film here.
Similarly, Though I am Gone (虽我死去) recounts the story of Bian Zhongyun, a communist party member and the vice-principal of a secondary school who was tortured to death on August 5th, 1966. She was believed to be the teacher killed by students during “Red August” of 1966 which launched the Cultural Revolution. Trailer below, full film here.