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Posts Tagged ‘Susan Morgan Cooper’

At Palm Springs International Film Festival

Saturday, January 7th, 2012
Welcome to Palm Springs!

Image by bamalibrarylady via Flickr

I arrived to the beautiful sunshine at Palm Springs yesterday afternoon. After checking in at the Renaissance Hotel and getting my credentials at the hospitality room at the hotel, I got together with Ellis, my film executive producer, and Susan, my director.

We started this exciting film festival by attending a private party in the home of Brenda, a former film commissioner in Illinois. Brenda lives in Palm Springs now, but because of her Chicago ties, there were many people from Chicago and the midwest were there, including Chaz Ebert, Roger Ebert’s wife and Morman Mark, a former Chicago TV host and journalist. I was trilled to meet her and many others.

Listing of Mulberry Child in the program of PSIFF

Early this morning, I went out for a hike on a trail behind the Art Museum, about 6 blocks away from the hotel. I waited until daylight to get on the trail and was soon captivated by the tranquility of the sprawling mountain ranges around me. I was relieved to see another hiker half way up a hill and watched him disappear as I stopped to admire the scenes of the valley.

Despite my fear of getting lost, I couldn’t resist the temptation of going higher and reaching one and then another peak. When I finally sat down on the flat surface of a large rock, I found myself bathed in the warmth of the rising sun. I extended my arms toward the blue sky, my thoughts turning to my grandmother and father, wishing that somewhere up there, they could see me and know I was here to tell their life stories on the screen to a large audience.  Memories of my childhood flooded back, with grandma’s smiling face vividly in my mind. Watching the valley below me—dotted with palm trees and swimming pools, I found it hard to believe this was reality. Tears came to my eyes as I told Grandma that her legacy would live on through generations to come…

The first screening of Mulberry Child is at 12:30 p.m. today. As I descended quickly down the trail, I wiped away the tears of gratitude and joy and felt more determined and energized than ever before.

Jian Ping, author Mulberry Child: a Memoir of Child.

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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


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 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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Filming Mulberry Child in China (5)

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

By Jian Ping

Sugar coated sweet potato, "Ba Si Di Gua"

We worked feverishly in Changchun and Baicheng, filming all the footage that Susan intended to have and more. We also shared many fun and memorable moments.

One of those was a lunch at a restaurant half a block away from where my mother lived in Changchun. It was a “meat restaurant,” a neighborhood place where the food was reasonably priced and the wait staff friendly. I ordered many vegetarian entrees for our group: eggplant with green pepper, my favorite; tofu with bean sprouts and clean noodles, Quyen’s newly found favorite; rice with stir-fried eggs and deep-fried sweet potato coated in sugar, two dishes that Alex’s life depended on; and the long string beans that Lisa loved; and home fries, with additional order of pumpkin fries that Susa relished; and a large plate of spinach stir-fried with garlic. My nephew ordered more dishes with meat. When all was said and done, we found ourselves faced with a large table of entrees the style of a feast, all at a cost less than 300 RMB, about $45!

“This is the best meal we’ve had in China,” Susan said. She asked if this was one of the best restaurants in town.  

Something else, however, also caught Susan’s attention—she loved the wait staff uniform. The slim-cut, high collar uniform in red and black, with white stripes, looked very smart on the boys and girls who ran around the dining room serving customers.

“Do you think I can buy one from them?” she asked me.

I talked with a waiter, who called the manager. I noticed many of the wait staff smiled as they looked toward our table. They were also murmuring among themselves. They must have been amused by this curious, friendly foreigner.

Susan, the wait staff captain

When the waiter I talked with returned 20 minutes later, he handed Susan a brand new uniform in a clear plastic bag.

“Courtesy of our restaurant,” he said in response to Susan’s inquiry of price. “We hope to see you again.”

“Xiexie! Xiexie!” Susan’s pronunciation of thank you in Chinese was perfect. Then, she stood up and surprised us all by putting on the uniform and beginning to clear the plates from the table.

“What else would you like to have?” she asked with a big smile.

We all applauded.

We did come back to the restaurant again for another meal two days later.  

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

Filming in Chicago

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

By Jian Ping

The docu-drama film based on my book Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China has rolled into production faster than I anticipated. Last Wednesday, film director Susan Morgan Cooper (her latest multi-award-winning documentary film is: An Unlikely Weapon: the Eddie Adams Story) flew in from Los Angeles. Since my daughter Lisa and I both live in Chicago, she wants to present a bit of our life in the city.  I took her to visit the Museum Park, Millennium Park, the Chicago Tribune and Wrigley Building… signatures of the city I love.

On Thursday, her film crew also arrived in Chicago from Los Angeles—Quyen, the cinematographer, and her two assistants Matt and Alex. On Friday, when we started shooting, two local soundmen also joined the team. I was quite conscious of the two large cameras rolling in front of me when Susan conducted her interview. One of them was less than two feet from my face!

“Look at me,” Susan said. She sat next to me on my right. “Don’t ever turn to the camera.”

Susan would not reveal a word of her questions to me beforehand and I was shocked by a thick deck of notes in her hands. Five hours later—with short breaks to cool off the large camera and a short catered-in lunch—I realized we didn’t cover even a third of her notes! We filmed until the sun stopped cooperating with us.

We started early the following day and went through the same process. Susan was a wonderful interviewer—she not only engaged me with the story I had written, but brought me back to the moment of each scene she wanted to dig into and present. I soon found myself lost in the past and forgot all about the camera.

Susan interview Lisa for hours on Sunday. Afterwards, we filmed some outdoor scenes around the city. We were lucky that Chicago had a few unbelievable warm days and despite two evenings of rain, we had plenty of sunshine during daytime.

Susan and her crew worked non-stop—they filmed interviews during the day and night scenes of the city at night. When they returned to their hotel late at night, they had to spend hours downloading all the footage taken during the day. I realized how much work filmmakers must put in their project behind the scenes!

I worked with them nearly all day on Monday. Again, they didn’t stop for lunch and worked until they had to leave for the airport to catch their 8 p.m. flight. In the middle of the day, when Susan realized how desperately Quyen needed a rest, she ordered her to lie down on the sofa for 10 minutes. “I’m okay,” Quyen said five minutes later and went back to her camera again.  

They are certainly a bunch of energy and dedication. I’m very impressed and will certainly miss them. I look forward to working with them again soon on the next set of shooting. I have learned a lot and, I must say, very much enjoyed the experience!

   Jian Ping: Author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit, for more information.