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Archive for September, 2011

Mulberry Child Makes Premiere at the Heartland Film Festival

Thursday, September 29th, 2011


Little Jian in re-enactment

I’m so excited to share the news that Mulberry Child (MC) movie will start its premiere at the Heartland Film Festival on October 16 and will have two more screenings at the Festival on October 17 and October 21!


Of course, we are all excited about Jacqueline Bisset, winner of Golden Globe and Emmy Awards, to be the narrator of the film.

Susan Morgan Cooper, Director of MC, said: “I am delighted to return to Heartland’s nurturing and very classy film festival … The atmosphere of the festival inspires many lasting friendships.”

Susan’s last film An Unlikely Weapon: The Eddie Adams Story, was also shown at the Festival when it was first released.


Teenage Jian dreaming of flying away

It was a healing process for me to put the memories of the hardship I endured during China’s Cultural Revolution on paper. The book is also a legacy for my daughter—my effort to connect her to my family roots, and teach her the importance of resilience. I’m amazed by Susan’s wonderful job in expanding the film to include my life with my daughter in Chicago today. She successfully weaved my intentions for the book into episodes of my life stories in China and in the U.S.


The movie is a unique hybrid of documentary and narrative film, using rare archival footage, photographs taken surreptitiously by Li Zhensheng, and dramatic re-enactment. Susan succeeded in presenting the terrifying days of the Cultural Revolution and my fear as a little girl for my family. What Susan finds most compelling is what happens when the trauma of such a past haunts the future and impact my relationship with my daughter.

Check out the film at the Heartland Film Festival at

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit,, Mulberry Child movie is directed by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.




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Mulberry Child Movie

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Mulberry Child, the feature-length documentary based on my book Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, is finally coming to its completion! Last week, Jacqueline Bisset did the voice narration for the film and this week, the filmmakers are working on the final sound mix and color treatment. I can hardly wait to see the final cut!

I’m delighted to learn about the involvement of Jacqueline Bisset. Not only because she is a well-known actress and will bring more appeal to the film, but also the fact that she replaced much of the narration which was given by me. I must say that I’m much relieved, although my producer and director have been most supportive and encouraging about my voice and accent.

I very much enjoyed the film making process and loved working with the crew, especially Susan Morgan Cooper, my director. However, I also realized my limitations. One of the most humbling experiences was my struggle with the pronunciation of certain words.


Susan interviewing Jian Ping

I still remember vividly a roomful of people helping me say “a long gown,” which somehow, became something like “long gone” when I said it. In the end, we had to change the word to “long robe”. We laughed about it so hard that Susan and I were literally in tears.

I did learn to speak slower and clearer, which is of tremendous importance to me, for I’ve given and continue to give frequent talks about my book, China in the 60’s/7-‘s and today, and other social and cultural issues related to China at schools, organizations and book groups. I even gave a few motivational speeches to large groups, sharing the resilience demonstrated by my family–the mulberry children who survived and thrived like mulberry trees–to encourage people to overcome the hurdles in their lives. And I’ve learned just as much from many people in the audience by our interactions and conversations.

As for the film, there are many personally important and moving moments for me: re-enacted scenes on my grandmother, Nainai, a woman with bound feet but boundless love, my father, Hou Kai, who passed away right after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and my mother, Gu Wenxiu, who was stoic and strict when I was a child and a wonderful and loving mother and grandmother today at 83.

After the hard work of a year and a half, a feature-length (86 minutes) documentary has been produced by a strong, professional team. The result of collective efforts, with the vision of a creative director. I feel very fortunate to have their belief, support, and dedication!

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China., Mulberry Child has been developed into a feature-length documentary film and will be released in 2011.

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Republicans, Empathy, and Fiction

Sunday, September 18th, 2011
The logo for Death Row Records is a blindfolde...

Image via Wikipedia

So you’ve got an auditorium full of Republicans,and at the mention of Texas executing 234 inmates during the Perry governorship, the audience applauds. I know why. Republicans haven’t been reading enough fiction. Reading fiction, researchers are learning, promotes empathy









What I don’t get is how these same people talk about “the sanctity of life” when discussing a barely formed fetus, while a man wrongly convicted and executed gets no sympathy. Nor does the woman who killed her abusive husband. Nor does the man who suffered from schizophrenia and spent his adult life in homeless shelters and in a fit of anger choked someone to death.

What would happen if these Republicans started reading more fiction? Charles Dickens, for example: his characters in debtors’ prison, the young orphans. In The Curiosity Shop, the orphaned Nell must become a beggar; her only friend Kit is falsely accused of theft by the money-grabbing Quilp. Who can read that story and not feel empathy for the characters and contemporary people who suffer the same fate? And what if Republicans read about the life of Celie in The Color Purple? The Joads in The Grapes of Wrath? I imagine throngs of them rushing to work in the inner city, buying groceries for the unemployed, voting to extend Medicaid to all who need it, building homes for the homeless.

So what are we Progressives to do? If Republicans will not come to fiction, we must take it to them. Outside the debate venues we can pass out novels. Are there any suggestions as to which ones?

Meanwhile, I will respond to my own personal calling: writing fiction.

Nancy Werking Poling is author of Had Eve Come First and Jonah Been a Woman and Out of the Pumpkin Shell.


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September 11

Sunday, September 11th, 2011
”]Cover of "9/11 [Region 2]"

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since September 11—the day that defined the “before” and “after” and the words “9/11” became a phrase that is loaded with meaning and emotion.

I looked out of my apartment window early this morning, and was touched by the rising sun, with golden beams coming through a thin layer of scattered clouds. All the trees, in deep green, stood still, and the gusting wind that had swept the city of Chicago every day last week suddenly halted. It looked so beautiful and peaceful along the shore of Lake Michigan.

No one can take a day like this for granted after 9/11.

I clearly remember this day ten years ago. I had arrived at Boston from Chicago for a business trip the night before. A colleague was supposed to pick me up at 9 A.M. at my hotel. My phone rang shortly before 9. A friend from New Jersey urgently asked me to turn on the TV. “A plane hit World Trade Center!”

I had worked in Manhattan for fives years before moving to Chicago. I had been to the World Trade Center numerous times and my neighbor downstairs owns a restaurant there. I turned on the TV and saw the dark smoke rising from one building. I felt the tremor through my body.

When my colleague arrived, we continued to watch the news in the lobby of the hotel, along with other guests and hotel staff. Despite the crowd, there was a deafening silence, and then cries of shock and disbelief when we watched the second plane hit the other tower on the TV screen.

As the time passed by the seconds and minutes that day, we learned two planes crashed had originated from the Boston Logan Airport. The city was in alert and the financial district and many businesses were closed. The city announced free subway rides to help people get home…. My colleague and I were grounded and ended up being glued to the TV most of the day.

I spent the rest of the week trying to book and rebook a flight back to Chicago. Four days later when there was still no news of when flights would be allowed to take off, I rented a car and started driving all the way to Chicago.

The day journey was the longest drive I had by myself. I kept my window down, longing to hear the familiar sound of a plane in the sky. I got off the highway from time to time, driving through some local neighborhoods to calm down, to observe people’s life and to ponder what had happened. It was then I noticed so many American flags waving in the wind on top of government and commercial buildings, and in front of residential houses. I was in tears. I had been living in the U.S. for 15 years at the time and had become an American citizen. But it was then, in the face of the attack and the display of defiance and patriotism by Americans that I strongly identified myself with America.

9/11, a day that changed us and our lives forever.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit, Mulberry Child has been turned into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and will be released in 2011.

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China in the Next 30 Years—Quotes from contributing writers

Friday, September 9th, 2011

After releasing the digital version of China in the Next 30 Years, I read a couple of the articles again. Continue to be impressed by their depth and thought-provocative views. I’d like to share a quote from each of the contributing writers.

“China’s development for the next 30 years will be shaped not only by its own internal policies, but by events and diplomacy in the rest of the world—and specifically by the decline of the debt-burdened and privatized West, increasingly frustrated, angry and out-lashing as its politicians blame foreigners fro their own domestic financial austerity and economic shrinkage.”

Michael Husdon in “China in 30 Years”


Michael Hudson

Chinese people have spent the last 170 years, since the start of the Opium Wars in 1840, constantly searching for a way to rejuvenate the nation, and the reform and opening up policy could mean that search is now over.”


Li Daokui in “Prospects for the Next 30 Years”

“People above the age of 40 know that China’s political system today is quite different from what it was 30 years ago in that it has shifted from a revolutionary system to an institutional system.”

Pan Wei in “China in the Next 30 Years: A prospective future and a possible pitfall”


Wang Huiyao

“To fulfill the diverse psychological and social needs like equal opportunity, social justice and fulfilling individuals potential or self-actualization, China has to resolve the question of how to establish a mechanism that allows freedom of speech, which is the key to the sustainability of the ‘Chinese models'”.


Wang Huiyao in “The Characteristics, Challenges and Expectations of the ‘Chinese Models'”

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit, Mulberry Child has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and will be released in 2011.

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Is Perry Inciting Age-Wars?

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
Pop art Portrait of Rick Perry

Image via Wikipedia

by Nancy Werking Poling,

author of Had Eve Come First and Jonah Been a Woman

and Out of the Pumpkin Shell


So it’s a cool morning, and being retired, I haven’t gone to work but am sitting on the front porch in my hickory rocker, reading the newspaper. A calming experience were it not for yet another article about possible cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. “We must not borrow against future generations,” a congressman says.

The Boomers are to blame, we hear, those born between 1946 and 1964. So many, and what with all the costs of Medicare and Social Security. Those Hippies, the kids in college during the 60s, they’re the ones responsible for the breakdown of American values. Now they expect the next generation to pay for them to play golf and take cruises?

Indeed, thanks to the Higher Education Act of 1965, more students than ever before attended college during the 60s. The federal government pumped money into scholarships and low-interest student loans, as well as into the universities themselves.

Yet those of us fortunate enough to attend college during the 60s tend to forget that most Boomers were not able to take advantage of the new resources. Instead, young men who weren’t in college (a disproportion of them black or Hispanic), and hence unable to get a deferment, were drafted to fight in Vietnam. The majority of young people struggled to gain personal independence, working in home and highway construction, as secretaries, as telephone operators, in factories. These Boomers felt lucky to have enough money to buy a home, set aside a little in a savings account for a rainy day. They did not have extra money to invest in the stock market or in 401Ks. For many of them no employers contributed to a pension fund.

Listen to Eric Cantor rant against wealthy Americans paying higher taxes, and you’ll hear his accusation that it’s all an effort “to incite class warfare.” He’s talking about rich-poor warfare. But consider Rick Perry saying that Social Security “is a Ponzi scheme for … young people. The idea that they’re working and paying into Social Security today, that the current program is going to be there for them, is a lie. It is a monstrous lie on this generation, and we can’t do that to them.”

Perry’s remarks are indeed inciting warfare: between the generations. Having spent two semesters in South Korea, I’ve witnessed the respect Korean young people show their elders, the genuineness of concern for their parents’ and grandparents’ comfort. But in the U.S. Rick Perry and other leaders are telling young people that Boomers are the enemy, that our generation has done nothing to earn respect and a retirement free of want.

All the while Perry and others forget that they are among the more fortunate Boomers: those with university degrees, law degrees, MBAs. They have had money to invest. When they retire they’ll receive government pensions. They don’t need Social Security or Medicare.

In 2008 the median household income for persons over 65 was $30,774, while that of younger households was $56,000   ( ). That same year, 3.7 million Americans over the age of 65 had incomes below the federal poverty level, that is below $10,326 ( Many senior citizens depend on Social Security and Medicare. They have no choice.

I don’t deny that there will be strains on the federal budget as Boomers reach retirement age. I wish I could offer a solution about where funding is to come from, but I can’t. I only ask that those who want to lead our country consider the ramifications of their rhetoric. Let them model the respect that is due the generation that helped build the economy to where it was before the recession: those who have worked in assembly lines, built our highways, driven the trucks that transported goods, cleaned the office buildings, stocked grocery shelves.

Yes, let all of us model respect.

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