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Posts Tagged ‘Heartland Film Festival’

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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At Palm Springs Int’l Film Festival (2)

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Jian and Jodi who performed Jian as a child met at the theatre at PSIFF

I arrived at the Regal Theatre to attend the 1st screening of Mulberry Child shortly after 12 noon on Saturday and was surprised to see two long lines of people in front of the entrance. I had never been to this theatre before and thought one had to wait to get in for all the screenings.

“Jennifer,” a man in the line waved to me.

It took me a second to recognize Sean Valla, my film editor. I met Sean quite a few times during the editing process of the film in Los Angeles and was always impressed by his dedication and patience combing through mountains of footage and the endless close ups of my face for all the interviews that my director Susan conducted.

I was thrilled to see him and surprised to learn the two lines were all for entry to the screening of Mulberry Child: one line for ticket holders and the other, people standing by for the possibility of getting in at the last minute, for tickets had been sold out the week before. My heart skipped a beat.

By the time I managed to get into the theatre, my executive producer Ellis and his wife Gillian and Susan were already there. I saw the theatre was nearly full and felt sorry that many people waiting outside wouldn’t be able to come in.

Susan tapped me on my shoulder. “I want you to meet Jodi,” she said.

I looked at the little girl by her side. Jodi performed the 6-year-old me in the film and I had never met her before.

I wrapped Jodi in my arms. “You did a wonderful job,” I murmured in her ear.

Jodi gave her shy smile and looked at me with an expression I had seen so many times on the screen.

Jian and Lisa after Q & A when Jian signed books for interested viewers

I scanned the audience and was thrilled to see a few familiar faces, including Quyen Tran, my cinematographer and her husband, Sam, Eli Bergmann, my book editor, and his girlfriend Lily. They had driven all the way from Los Angeles to watch the film. I also noticed Chaz Ebert sitting next to Ellis, and a couple rows below, Norman Mark and his beautiful wife Grace. I was all the support.

Half way through the film, Lisa was ushered into the theatre. She had just flown in from Chicago this morning to attend the Q & A and I was relieved that she made it on time.

As it was at the Heartland Film Festival, many people in the audience asked questions about the film, my parents and their views on the Cultural Revolution, and Lisa’s on-going process of identifying with her Chinese roots. When the Q & A session ended, quite a few people lingered behind and continued the discussion. Once Chinese man’s comments particularly touched me.

“I also come from the Northeast of China,” he said, as we shook hands. “I was sent to the countryside for six years,” he continued. “I very much like the presentation of that historical period in your film as it was done sensibly, not an over kill.”

It meant so much to me the remark came from someone who had lived through the Cultural Revolution in China.

Once again, I was overwhelmed and touched by the reaction from the audience.

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Updates on Mulberry Child (2)

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Little Jodi who played Jian

Director Susan Morgan Cooper and cast–who played little Jian and her parents in Mulberry Child speak about their experience behind the scene. Click on the link below to view the interviews.

Director and Cast Talk about the Making of the Film


Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. For more information, visit,, and

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An Inspiring Experience at the Heartland Film Festival

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011


Tickets to Mulberry Child sold out at AMC theatre

Nothing is more reassuring and gratifying than finishing the screening of your film at a film festival with a SOLD OUT show and a standing ovation from the audience. That was the exciting experience I had at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, a well-respected festival by filmmakers and film patrons at which Mulberry Child had its world premiere.


“Thank you! Thank you so much!” Susan Morgan Cooper, director of the feature-length documentary film based on my book Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, repeatedly said to the enthusiastic audience. She wiped away tears of joy and appreciation as she faced the audience in this packed AMC theatre in Castleton Square.


Jian, Lisa and Susan at Heartland Film Festival Gala

My daughter, Lisa, and I stood by Susan’s side, along with Louise Henderson, director of the festival’s documentary program who introduced us to the audience. We were all touched and thrilled by the response we received. I must say I was also overwhelmed and humbled. All my concerns and worries about exposing my life and that of my family evaporated at that moment. Even Lisa, a reluctant participant throughout the filmmaking process, came on board, now that she saw the positive impact that the film had on others.


Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit to watch the trailer of Mulberry Child. For more information on Jian Ping and her book, visit and

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Mulberry Child Movie Postcard

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Mulberry Child movie, directed by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and narrated by Jacqueline Bisset, is finally completed! The world premiere will be at the Heartland Film Festival on October 16, 2011 in Indianapolis and the film will be screened three times at the Festival.

Sunday, October 16, 5:45 PM at AMC Showplace 17, 4325 South Meridian Street,

Monday, October 17, 3:30 PM at AMC Castleton Square, 6020 E. 82nd St.

Friday, October 21, 7:15 PM at AMC Castleton Square, 6020 82nd St.

Check out the details at the link below.

On the right is the postcard of the film!

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A memoir of China. Visit, for more information.

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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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