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Chinese Audiences Somewhere Between

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Summer Wu

Summer Wu was an audience member who watched Somewhere Between at Beijing Foreign Studies University. She graciously shared her observations of the emotional connection with Chinese audiences to this story.

“Audience members were constantly wiping tears in the dark during the screening of Somewhere Between at Beijing Foreign Studies University’s Annual Documentary Forum on March 16, 2012. They stayed till the end of the film to share their comments and engaged in a heated discussion on the film itself and the issues involved on multiple levels.

Artistically, there was much appreciation for the director’s effort in getting access to families with adopted children and orphanages, yet an audience member thought that the film would be better if there were more perspectives in the film other than those of the adoptees and their American families.  Professor Li Jinzhao suggested that the director could have asked the American parents more questions like why they adopt, why adopt in China and whether they ever regretted along the process.  More background information could have been given to make the film a more nuanced one.

From a sociological perspective, topics including transnational adoption, cultural difference, gender inequality, and one child policy were widely discussed among the panel and the audience.  Some shared family adoption experience, some tried analyzing the cultural identity of the adoptees and some proposed a revision on the Chinese social welfare system.

Many also shared their thoughts about the need of a sense of belonging and the state of loneliness.  They questioned ‘Why do people need to belong somewhere?’ ‘Where do we belong?’ and ‘Are we all alone?’  These questions were, in a sense, philosophical and in the end could not be answered.”

— Summer Wu (sent via email)

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Long before the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in general, and halted production and distribution for many creatives, the nonfiction field was plagued by issues of sustainability. For several years, sustainability has been an urgent and vigorous topic of study, debate, and organizing, as more and more filmmakers find it difficult, if not impossible, to make a living solely on the basis of their creative work. 

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