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Posts Tagged ‘Gene Siskel Film Center’

Another successful run in Chicago

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Sold Out Screening at the Gene Siskel Film Center

Mulberry Child finished its second run at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago last Thursday, with 11 screenings over a period of one week. Most of the shows were sold out, and each of the Q & A sessions lasted 45 minutes or more. I was and still am very touched and honored.

I was pleased to see some friends and friends’ friends come to the screenings; and more Asians, including many Chinese, in the audience this time. I was thrilled, like I was at the first round of screenings, that the audiences connected with the themes of Mulberry Child from various levels regardless of their backgrounds. When I saw several friends/viewers who had watched the film in January came back again, this time with their friends and family members, I was moved beyond words. Many members of

Jian Ping talking with audience after screening

book clubs, Women of the World, and the Asian Group of IWA that I had met and given talks to before also came to the screenings, some coming as far as Crystal Lake, more than 50 miles away!

Meanwhile, Nina Metz’ at the Chicago Tribune released a coverage on Mulberry Child the day the film opened its screening. The half-page write up was accompanied with a large photo of my daughter, Lisa, and me and gave a very good idea of what the film is about.

Many heartfelt thanks to you all for your interest and support!

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. The film just finished its second run for a week at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.

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Radio Interview at WLUW

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Live interview with Katy Hogan and Michael James

A last minute request for an interview with Katy Hogan and Michael James at WLUW, 88.7 FM brought me to the live program at Heartland Cafe early yesterday morning. Most of the tables at the Café were taken by diners when I arrived. Lisa Smith, producer of the program, was busy solving some technical problems before the one-hour program went live.

The setting was casual, and the sound of conversations among the diners, accelerated by the noises made by small children, made the place full of life.

“How can you get all the side ‘sound track‘ out?” I asked. I have done many radio interviews about my book and the film based on my book. But I had never been in a place that the surrounding sound appeared louder than what came out on a stage when interviews would be conducted.

“No problem,” Michael said. “We use sound filters.”

I watched diners eat or chat when the first person talking about local elections was being interviewed. I was a little concerned when my turn was up.

The Harold Washington Library in downtown Chic...

The Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago. Taken by Douglas Kaye, 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since it was a “last minute request,” Katy and Michael had not had any time looking into the film, which, in a way, served well in giving me a chance to give a brief introduction about the film and the book Mulberry Child. The interview felt like a chat, and we went on to cover the upcoming screenings of Mulberry Child at the Gene Siskel Film Center from March 30 to April 5. I was proud to announce the partnership of the Film Center with the upcoming Chicago Public Library‘s One Book, One Chicago program in showcasing the film. Toward the end, Michael even brought up the film website., ” Michael repeated after me, so listeners could take it down and check out all the information on the film.

Lisa Smith was motioning to us that our time was running out. We brought the conversation to an end. I was surprised to hear the loud applause from the diners. I turned to look at the room and was touched to see so many people were clapping their hands while looking at us. I was worried no one was going to pay much attention when I walked on to the stage.

I passed a few postcards of the film to the people sitting in the front. I said goodbye to Lisa Smith before the finish of the program, as I had to rush to an 11 a.m. appointment.

A woman with a small child in her arms stopped me at the door.

“Thank you for sharing your story,” she said. “Could I have a postcard?” she asked. “I’d like to share it with my friends.”

I walked away, feeling glad I had come to the interview.

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Mulberry Child Returns to Chicago

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

After three sold-out screenings in the “Stranger than Fiction” documentary series in January, Mulberry Child returns to Chicago with 11 screenings from March 30 to April 5 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, in partnership with the Chicago Public Library’s One Book One Chicago spring program.

My heartfelt thanks to you all for your support! The responses I’ve received are overwhelmingly touching. I’m thrilled and humbled.

Please help us spread the word of the upcoming screenings if you have seen the film. For those who couldn’t make it in January, hope you can join us this time. Once again, we strongly recommend obtaining your ticket(s) in advance.

My daughter Lisa and I will do Q & A after the last screening each day except Wednesday, April 4.

“a powerful and touching film,” stated Roger Ebert who gave the film 3 ½ stars.

Read full review.

I had a discussion about the film with Phil Ponce on Chicago Tonight Show, WTTW.

Watch the interview.


Directed by Susan Morgan Cooper, USA, 85 min. Narrated by Jacqueline Bisset

This many-layered documentary saga begins in Chicago with a disconnect between Chinese-born Jian Ping and her thoroughly American daughter Lisa Xia, and journeys into the heart of China for a personal history of one family’s trauma and eventual triumph over Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Through colorful reenactments, historical records, and moving interviews, director Morgan Cooper (AN UNLIKELY WEAPON) follows the trail of Mulberry Child, Jian’s powerful memoir of growing up amid the hardship and injustice of the Cultural Revolution, and traces daughter Lisa’s gradual understanding of family love. Presented in partnership with the Chicago Public Library’s One Book, One Chicago program, which features Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li this spring.

Screening schedule: (Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Chicago, tickets are now available at the box office or the Ticketmaster)

Fri, Mar 30th at 8:15pm

Sat, Mar 31st at 3:15pm; 5:00pm; and 7:45pm

Sun, Apr 1st at 3:15pm; and 5:00pm

Mon, Apr 2nd at 6:15pm and 8:00pm

Tue, Apr 3rd at 8:00pm

Wed, Apr 4th at 6:15pm

Thu, Apr 5th at 8:15pm

Hope you can join us at one of the screenings if you are in the vicinity. Thanks.

Jian Ping, autor of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China

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Touching Moments

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Audience at Q & A with Jian and Lisa after watching Mulberry Child

All three screenings of Mulberry Child at the Gene Siskel Film Center were sold out.  I was amazed and touched that the audiences of different ages and backgrounds connected with our life stories!

At our 2nd screening, I was pleased to see a number of Chinese in the audience. I was most eager to hear what they had to say. The moment I stepped down from the podium after Q & A, a young Chinese woman in her 20s stood up from her front row seat and hugged me.

“Thank you for sharing your story,” she said in a low voice. I realized she was crying.

I put my arms around her as she laid her head over my left shoulder and sobbed. Two of her friends stood by, their eyes welled up with tears.

The young woman lifted her head and gave me an embarrassed smile, wiping away her tears.

“It’s OK,” I said, padding her on her back as she lowered her head over my shoulder again.

Lisa and Jian addressing audience's questions

“Just call your mother tonight and tell her you love her, too,” I said, trying to make it light.

A young Chinese couple, both graduate students from UIC, waited patiently as our conversation kept being interrupted by friends who came to give their congratulations and bid farewell. It turned out that they both came from Changchun, the city where I was born.

“We never learned much about the Cultural Revolution,” the wife said. “I feel I get to know my parents much more by watching your film.”

I was deeply moved by their reaction and comments.

More than two dozens of people lingered behind and talked until the staff at the Gene Siskel Film Center called out to close the theatre at 11 p.m.

The last screening was equally moving. Only one or two people left when we started the Q & A. I felt the connection from the audience and took turns with my daughter Lisa to address their questions on China, our relationship, and the impact of the film on us.

The next day, I found one posting from a Chinese woman named Li. I remembered talking to her the night before. She was Lisa’s age. She wrote: “Every Chinese should watch this film.”

Jian with graduate students from IIT

I received numerous moving comments from my friends via email during the week after the screenings. I was so touched that I selected a few each day to forward to my director Susan and executive producer Ellis, stating these are the “love letters of the day.”

Mulberry Child was so well received by the audience that the Gene Siskel Film Center invited us to come back for a weeklong screening from March 30 to April 5, with 11 shows. The Chicago Public Library also invited us to participate in the spring’s One Book, One Chicago program, stating Mulberry Child would be a “wonderful companion” to the selected book, so we formed a three-way partnership.

I’ve committed to do Q & A with Lisa at the last screening of each day during the screening period. I look forward to connect directly with as many viewers as possible.

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Jacqueline Bisset.

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Mulberry Child Premiered in Chicago

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

At the reception of Mulberry Child

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, January 21, the reception area at the Gene Siskel Film Center became alive with the arrival of our friends, friends’ friends and Mulberry Child’s viewers who had all managed to purchase their tickets in advance.

We had a pre-screening reception, sponsored by Wintrust Commercial Bank. Our first screening in Chicago was sold out three weeks before the scheduled date. Each of us, my executive director Ellis, my daughter Lisa, and I, had received emails or phone calls from friends who tried to get help from us to buy tickets. Unfortunately, we didn’t have access to any—they were all sold out. In the end, I even gave my ticket to a friend.

I was very touched by the support we had received in Chicago and the overwhelmingly positive response from the audience at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis and more recently, the Palm Springs International Film Festival where we had sold out screenings and was selected as “Best of the Fest”, an honor bestowed to only 14 films out of 188 from 73 countries at the festival. We were thrilled.

With Lisa and her friends

Last week in Chicago, shortly before our premiere, we were overjoyed to read Roger Ebert‘s review of Mulberry Child, with a rating of 3.5 stars out of 4. My director Susan was in tears when she heard the news. “Roger Ebert is my god,” she said, referring to his highly-respected film critic voice in the industry.  “You have no idea what an honor that is,” she said to me.

I think I got the idea when Phil Ponce, anchor of the Chicago Tonight Show, opened his interview with me about the film with Roger Ebert’s rating last week.

“This is a powerful and touching film,” Roger Ebert wrote.

We were all “over the moon,” to use a word Ellis said. Indeed, we all felt overjoyed and honored.

At the reception on Saturday, I did the best I could welcome people, only to regret that I had no time or opportunity to introduce them to Susan and Ellis.

I was especially pleased that Lisa introduced me to a few of her friends.

“Tell me if you still love her after watching the film,” I joked with them.

“They will,” Lisa cut in, a big smile crossing her face. “Because they are my friends!”

With my friend and fellow writer Jennifer Anton

We had plenty of food and drink at the reception. Shortly before 8 p.m., everyone walked into the theatre for the screening. Lisa, my supportive husband Francis, Chao, an ITT student who was working with me throughout the evening, and I were the only people remained in the reception area. Lisa and I had both given out our tickets to our friends, and even if we had tickets, we might not have the nerve to watch the film with so many people who know personally, a big difference from attending film festivals at other cities.

We walked into the theatre for Q & A a few minutes before the end of the film. The theatre was very quiet, except for an occasional sniffing from one seat or another, indicating someone was crying. A mere glance on the screen on which my father was giving me his last wave shortly before his passing brought tears to my eyes.

We had a long Q & A session and most of the people in the audience stayed until the last minute.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

Roger Ebert’s full review:

Interview with Phil Ponce on Chicago Tonight Show, WTTW:

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China.

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Mulberry Child in Ledet’s “Top Ten of 2011”

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Selection by Diane Ledet

I’m thrilled and honored to be notified about the selection of Mulberry Child in Diane Ledet’s “Top Ten of 2011” book list.

Here is Ledet’s posting:

I’d also like to share some exciting news: Mulberry Child movie, a feature-length documentary based on the book, will come to Chicago in January, 2012. It will be shown as part of the documentary series at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Screening schedule is as follows:

8 P.M., Saturday, Jan. 21;

8 P.M. Tuesday, Jan. 24; and

8 P.M., Thursday, Jan. 26.

Director Susan Morgan Cooper will come from Los Angeles to attend all the screenings, so will be Lisa and me. We will be all at the Q & A after each show. Hope to see you at one of these screenings!

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

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