Our doc­u­men­tary, in some sense, can be seen as an ef­fort to pre­serve a dy­ing his­tory.”

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE -

For the first time, a doc­u­men­tary will re­veal footage of two as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempts on the late Chi­nese leader Deng Xiaop­ing dur­ing his land­mark 1979 visit to the United States.

The 94-minute doc­u­men­tary, Mr. Deng Goes to Wash­ing­ton, will hit the­aters on the Chi­nese main­land on Fri­day. It is the first big-screen pro­duc­tion chron­i­cling Deng’s nine­day visit about one month af­ter China of­fi­cially es­tab­lished diplo­matic re­la­tions with the US.

With as much as 40 min­utes of the footage pur­chased from the US at a cost of $250 per sec­ond, the film has an en­sem­ble “cast” more fa­mous than the stars of mostHol­ly­wood block­busters.

The film, made last year, in­cludes the then US pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter, thenUS na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Zbig­niew Brzezin­ski and for­mer US sec­re­tary of stateHenry Kissinger.

FuHongx­ing, the movie’s direc­tor, says con­vinc­ing the politi­cians to par­tic­i­pate in the movie was a tough job as they are all el­derly peo­ple.

As a vet­eran film­maker, the 52-year-old direc­tor is fa­mous for a num­ber of doc­u­men­taries, in­clud­ing Zhou En­lai’s Diplo­matic Ca­reer, based on the for­mer Chi­nese pre­mier. The film was the high­est­gross­ing Chi­nese film of 1998.

Carter was 91 years old at the time of shoot­ing, while Kissinger was 92. The crew also had to travel to a hos­pi­tal inHous­ton to in­ter­view­former US pres­i­dent Ge­orge Her­bertWalker Bush, who was 91 and in poor phys­i­cal con­di­tion.

The crew­made an ap­point­ment to in­ter­view James Sch­lesinger, for­mer US sec­re­tary of en­ergy, who boosted the Sino-US Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment on Science and Tech­nol­ogy in 1979. But Sch­lesinger, who agreed to take part in late 2013, died a few days be­fore the crewflewto theUS.

“It was an ur­gent mission to com­pete with time. Our doc­u­men­tary, in some sense, can be seen as an ef­fort to pre­serve a dy­ing his­tory,” Fu says.

Fu de­scribes the film as be­ing more like a “his­tor­i­cal thriller” than a doc­u­men­tary — it fea­tures a dra­matic sto­ry­line, weav­ing to­gether the tour’s ob­sta­cles rang­ing from the weather, pro-Kuom­intang ad­ver­saries to the “sur­pris­ing” ac­ci­dents.

“The po­lit­i­cal game cap­tured in the film is much more thrilling and danger­ous than most fic­tional es­pi­onage ti­tles or ac­tion block­busters,” he says.

“The nine-day visit marked a his­tor­i­cal turn­ing point in Sino-US re­la­tions, and rewrote the global geopol­i­tics,” Fu adds.

The twoat­tempted as­sas­si­na­tions in­clude one by two rad­i­cal jour­nal­ists at the White­House when Carter met Deng, and the other by a Ku KluxKlan­mem­ber, whotried to pull some­thing from his coat as he rushed to­ward Deng in Hous­ton, but was in­ter­cepted by Paul Kelly, then a US Se­cret Ser­vice agent.

In some scenes with no his­tor­i­cal videos, the movie uses an­i­ma­tions to de­pict Deng, the first time a car­toon has been used to show the for­mer Chi­nese leader on the big screen.

Pro­ducer Lyu Muzi says the an­i­ma­tor has cre­ated 12 car­toon scenes, with one scene de­picted in the tra­di­tional Chi­nese shad­ow­pup­pet an­i­ma­tion.

“We’ve even sent the videos to Deng’s fam­ily and got a pos­i­tive re­sponse from his daugh­ter,” Lyu says.

Zhu Yuchen, a 24-year-old grad­u­ate stu­dent study­ing an­i­ma­tion at Bei­jing Film Academy, is the artist be­hind the an­i­mated scenes.

He says he read many his­tor­i­cal files, in­clud­ing the de­tails of dishes and ta­ble dec­o­ra­tions, to make the images close to re­al­ity.

Toshowthe in­flu­ence of the his­tor­i­cal visit, in­ter­views are wo­ven into the end of the movie from a dozen cur­rent celebri­ties, in­clud­ing Len­ovo founder Liu Chuanzhi, real es­tate ty­coon Pan Shiyi, for­mer NBA star YaoMing and pi­anist Lang Lang.

“The film means a lot to me. It’s hard to imag­ine Sino-US re­la­tions to­day if the two coun­tries hadn’t es­tab­lished of­fi­cial diplo­matic re­la­tions,” says Lang. He adds thatWestern bias against Chi­nese artists has re­duced in the past two decades, thanks to more com­mu­ni­ca­tion af­ter Deng’s his­toric visit. Con­tact the writer at xu­fan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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