Autumn Gem

My husband and I set out this evening to see a free screening of the documentary Autumn Gem. It’s an independent film made entirely by a couple of Vienna’s friends. Since we know Adam and Rae to be very creative, and they’ve been working really hard on it, we wanted to at least know more about it. Once the site for the film launched and I could read what it was about, I was much more inclined to care about it: the subject of the film is a Chinese feminist who fought for her homeland. And she has a sword in the pictures, so yeah, I’m all about that.

We got to Santa Clara University with just a smidge of traffic, but then spent a good 25 minutes wandering the campus trying to find the screening, listed as Daly Science Center 206. We tromped around the Alumni Science lab with no luck finding room 206. We moved on to the Arts and Sciences building, which had some flyers up across from room 206, but nobody was in there. We then asked for help but it wasn’t very helpful. Eventually we circled around another building marked Daly 207-210, and finally saw the easel posted out front. The lights in the room blinked out as we approached. We hurried in, saw the left side was full, went to the other door and the other side as Adam figured out the menu, and saw the right side was full. Thought we were going to have to sit on the steps, but the front row was nearly empty. We plopped down.

Being up close can be daunting, but for this screening we were at just the right distance to not be uncomfortable looking up. Also everything was nice and big. The documentary is largely told with English narration over still images, but with some of Qiu Jin’s writings dramatized by actress Li Jing and others. Some interviews with historians and even a grand-nephew are interspersed throughout. The film discusses her early influences, her privileged upbringing which descends into traditional forced marriage, and then leads into her desire for China to come out of turmoil through the work of both men and women. She leaves her husband and two children to collaborate with both men and women into revolting against the government. Things don’t work out and she comes to an untimely end, but is remembered for her influence.

There were several things of note running through my mind as I watched the movie:
How recently this all happened, the turn of last century.
The effective use of still art to illustrate the story. A map that was highlighted with where the current location of the story was was very helpful, and showed how really far she traveled.
Arty shots, such as Qui Jin through paintbrushes, were effective and of course expected given the artistic talent we’ve seen from Rae and Adam previously.
I liked the political cartoons that were put in, and they were a stark but welcome contrast to all the sort of “real” stuff that was in the rest of the movie.
The soundtrack was a nice backdrop and never distracting.
Girl had *angst.* There were times in the film where my jaw was on the floor and I was like man, she’s gonna cause some trouble.
And as I think with any other sort of large historical figure nowadays, I keep wondering when someone is going to rise up and lead something to deal with our modern times.

After the film, there was a good Q&A from the students there, and including Rae’s father and the guy who tells Qui Jin she is going to be attacked. We said hi briefly to Adam and Rae, and provided many small bills for them in exchange for the DVD. Yay for change! We went outside, took a self-pic with the display and the DVD, and then left for 7-11 which is Domo-ed out. Got home without getting too lost, only missing one turn then finding 880N and getting onto the scary bumper-scraped 20MPH onramp for 101.

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