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Roger Ebert, the Chicago Icon will continue to live

Friday, April 5th, 2013
Roger Ebert, american film critic.

Roger Ebert, american film critic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The news of Roger Ebert‘s passing came as a shock despite my being aware that his cancer had come back and the situation was grave. Maybe he would won again this time, with his will, passion, and strength, as he did before, I thought.

When I came out of the Chicago Urban League‘s office building after giving a talk, I saw a text from my daughter, Lisa: “OMG, did you see the news that Ebert died!”

I sat in the parking lot in shock.

I searched my email and sure enough, I saw the statement by Chez, Roger Ebert’s wife, which was forwarded by a friend of Chez. It was a short but very loving statement about his passing and his life.

I had never met Roger Ebert in person, but had the good fortune of receiving his review of Mulberry Child movie and a rating of 3 ½ stars in January of last year when the film based my life had just come out.

I still remember my director Susan‘s reaction in front of the audience in a packed theatre after the screening of Mulberry Child when she talked about it meant to her.

“Roger Evert is my god,” Susan said. “This feels like getting god’s approval.”

She wiped away surging in her eyes. The audience applauded for her.

I’ve read his review numerous times since Jan. of last year when his review first came out. Each time it touched me on a personal level. He caught the essence of the film and the relationship between Lisa and me with deceiving simple, down-to-earth description.

“There’s a universal story here about immigrant parents and children, and how American culture can swamp family traditions, and make parents and children culturally unrecognizable to one another,” he wrote. “This is a powerful and touching film….”

As I read the review again today, tears well up in my eyes. I felt so honored and fortunate that the icon of Chicago, or rather, the best known film critic in the U.S., if not the entire world, wrote about the film based on my life and gave it a high rating.

This morning when I read the Tribune and listened to NPR, I learned more about him, and was very moved by the stories about him that so many people wanted to share.

Roger Ebert has touched so many people’s lives in so many ways that he will continue to live with us and be cherished deeply in our heart.

Below is a link to Roger Ebert’s review of Mulberry Child:

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into a award-winning documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit for more information.

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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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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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Updates on Mulberry Child

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

It’s been a very exciting and busy time since the completion of Mulberry Child movie in October. After the moving reception from the audience at the Heartland Film Festival, I’ve received quite a few requests for talks about my book and the film at special groups and for screenings at university campuses. I’m thrilled and touched. I look forward to embarking on a journey to share my story, and along the way, to empower more people to overcome adversities in their lives.

Here is a link to the trailer of the film:


Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. The book has been developed into a feature-length documentary film by award-winning director Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. For more information, visit, or


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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Words to Movies…

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

One of this year’s hot Oscar tips is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  This epic movie is based upon a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It is amazing how this short story has been turned into a two and half hour major movie, and I feel to a certain extent, some of the many messages in this intriguing and imaginative tale have been lost.

F. Scott Fitzgerald used beautiful descriptive language in his books and short stories and captured the Jazz Age Era of the 20s and 30s.  The Great Gatsby brilliantly described the excesses and obscene wealth of the pre-depression era.  Perhaps not so different from the 1990s era, for which we are now paying dearly.

Fitzgerald also reflected his turbulent relationship with his troubled wife, Zelda, in many of his short stories and novels.  She was particularly upset to discover that the leading character in his novel, Tender Is The Night, was clearly based upon her and her marital relationship.  Their wild excesses, drunken parties, and abusive and impetuous behavior became an embarrassment to their friends and associates, ultimately leading to Zelda’s mental breakdown.

Tales of The Jazz Age, which was Fitzgerald’s second collection of short stories, including the famous The Diamond As Big As the Ritz brought him further acclaim.  His second novel also published in the same year (1922) The Beautiful and the Damned was adapted to the screen with some success, but perhaps All The Sad Young Men contained the most insightful view of the troubled world that was to come with the Wall Street crash and the Great Depression.

Fitzgerald’s beautiful prose and illuminating descriptions were used in movie adaptations with some success, but it is a rare movie maker indeed that can transform the brilliance of the written word onto the Silver Screen.

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Based on a True Story…

Saturday, January 10th, 2009
1973:  (FILE) Richard Nixon (right), the 37th ...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

As we approach the Oscar season, there are a spate of new movies, many of which are advertised as “based on a true story” or “based on the incredible true story.”

These movies have often come from original books or plays and have gradually morphed into a full-length Hollywood production.

Sometimes, historical events are given a movie treatment through a screenplay that, on many occasions, uses dramatization of “events” or at least poetic license.

Currently offerings include FrostNixen, based upon a real live TV interview thirty years ago of the disgraced former President, Richard Nixon, by David Frost, a well-known British talk show host and political commentator.

The movie has received generally good reviews, and both the producers and Sir David Frost have acknowledged that there has been some dramatization and injection of verbal exchanges, comments, and action which did not take place at the time.

While one has to recognize all of this is done to create a movie that is broader and more entertaining than perhaps the original event, we have discovered in this age of instant visual communication, that the audience is likely to regard this total offering as being 100% factual.

Similarly, another movie that is just hitting the major screens is Valkyrie.  Billed as based on the incredible true story, it does contain considerable accurate historical facts.  However, as pointed out in the reviews, the screenplay gives the impression that a large proportion of the German Officer Corps. was attempting or plotting to remove Adolph Hitler for many years before the failed attempt on his life, which is the basis of the movie.

It is of course recognized that dramatization of events creating tensions and excitement is absolutely necessary, but once again the audience may well think that the events shown on the screen are 100% factual.

Perhaps the marketers of today’s movies, might more accurately describe their offerings as “dramatization of events that did take place” or “broadly based on a true story.”

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