Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Celluloid Heroes

At loose ends and in medical and employment limbo now, I've picked up some freelance editing work from China, specifically a last minute, rush job editing Chinglish synopses for an "ethnic minorities film festival" in Beijing.

For those who've been in China awhile, the movies are no surprise.

It's an effort to showcase the "benevolent ethnic diversity" policies exercised by the Chinese Communist Party/Han majority regarding the official 50something "ethnic minorities" living there, largely the (troublesome, sensitive) Tibetans and Muslim Uhygurs.

Minorities in general are still publicly showcased as "colorful," "warm-hearted" simple and naive folks who like nothing better than to sing or dance in their "traditional native costumes." Kinda like the happy Negroes and Indians in the US before the Civil Rights Movement.

There's also the obvious simplistic political propaganda angle in these flicks, particularly the ones after the 1940 "Liberation" when as late as the mid-50s movies were still being made about nefarious anti-CCP "spies" (all named "Mr XXXX") thwarted by earnest minorities with the supreme aid of Han comrades.

I've mucked my way through nearly 60 by now and believe me, most end with someone crying with joy despite losing loved ones who frequently fall off cliffs.
Submitted are a few samples for your enjoyment

08、Mongolian Ping Pong (Mongolian)
Production: Kunlun International Film & Media (2005) Color
Script writer: Ning Hao
Director: Ning Hao
Photography: Du Jie
Starring: Huricha Bilige, Dawa, Geliban

When Bilige finds a mysterious white ball floating in the creek, he picks it up. It feels a bit hard and also a bit soft. It is a little transparent too. What is it? Is it the long lost Night Pearl of the grassland? Bilige and his two friends start exploring the secret of the white ball. Grandmother at her spinning wheel recognizes it as the Night Pearl, while on the screen in the open air, the white ball also becomes a golf ball…

After these encounters, they finally learn that the white ball is called a ping pong ball and it is a "national sport!”

So, like legendary heroes they decide to return the ball to the State. They start with great dreams towards the east where the sun rises. After they fail to return the ball, they then disagree about who it belongs to. Their fathers get the boys together and solve the problem using traditional Mongolian friendship -- dividing the ping pong ball in half.

13、The Turpan Love Song (Uygur) Color
Script writer: Zhang Bing
Director: Jin Lini, Xierzhati
Photography: Mulati M
Starring: Aziguli Rexiti, Mulading Abulimiti

Anaerhan, a beautiful, vigorous young tour guide, is good at singing and dancing. One day, she is robustly performing for tourists when she receives a call from her brother.

She runs to the road and stops the guests who are going to make a marriage match for her sister, Kangbaerhan. Her moving performance persuades them to go back home.

It turns out that her 34-year-old sister still loves her ex-boyfriend Kelimu, who is an armed police officer and always away from home living in an army tent. On the way back to the city on the travel agency bus, Anaerhan comes across an emergency where Kelimu is repairing the road and a reporter is holding Kelimu’s son, Tuerxun, who is mute following a sudden car accident.

Kangbaerhan hardly meets Kelimu again when she dies of leukemia. Anaerhan understands her sister’s love and happens to know that Tuerxun is an orphan adopted by Kelimu. She takes him back home and formally announces that she will be his mother. Her mother, Halike also understands her daughter’s kindness and treats Tuerxun as a grandson.

During an accident, Tuerxun loudly shouts: "Grandpa!" and later with his restored language ability takes a cup of water to Anaerhan, saying, “Mama, have a drink…” which moves Anaerhan very much.

In the fall, Anaerhan enters the armed police camp and the soldiers stand up and call for her brother-in-law as she bursts into tears.

001. Victories in Inner Mongolia (Mongolian)
Production: Northeast Film Studio 1950 Black and White
Script Writer: Wang Zhenzhi Director: Gan Xuewei Photographer: Du Yu, Li Guanghui
Starring: Yun Cun, Bai Dafang, En Hesen, Fang Hua

During the Liberation War, a Kuomintang spy named “Mr. Yang” sneaks into a banner (an Inner Mongolian military unit) in Inner Mongolia, conspiring with his assistant Tusulageqi to dethrone Prince Daerji in order to collaborate with the Kuomintang government.

At the same time, Su He and Menghebarter are delegated by the district government to establish a Communist democratic regime in the nomadic area. Menghebarter’s younger sister Wuyunbilege, and Dundebu, Prince Daerji’s herdsman, are lovers, but cannot marry because of obstacles set up by the prince.

Dundebu hates Han people and suspects Menghebarter of betraying his own nationality. But after conveying the Communist Party’s ethnic policies to Prince Daerji and Dundebu Su, He wins their trust, and his protection of Dundebu’s mother in a rain storm further dissolves Dundebu’s hostility.

Mr. Yang, hiding in a Lama temple, commands Tusulageqi to go to the Kuomintang Commission to deploy troops for aid and Dundebu is angered when he sees Wuyunbilege being molested by Mr. Yang.

Soon the nomadic area is surrounded by danger. A gang of troops sent by Tusulageqi kills Menghebarter as he rides away for aid. Tusulageqi urges Dundebu to assassinate Su He, but Dundebu discloses the plot to Su He.

Mongolian-Han joint troops led by Su He arrive as the Kuomintang troops march into the prairie.

The Kuomintang troops are wiped out, Dundebu catches Mr. Yang alive, Tusulageqi is arrested and Prince Daerji stands at Dundebu’s side as he joins the People’s Liberation Army while the crowd cheers.

002. People on the Prairie (Mongolian)
Production: Northeast Film Studio 1953 Black and White
Script Writer: Hai Mo, Malaqinfu, Li Guanghui, 特•达木林
Director: Xu Tao Photographer: Wang Chunquan, Fu Hong, Li Guanghui
Starring: Wurina, En Hesen, Chao Lu, Shu Hai, Zhang Juguang

Sarengewa, an Inner Mongolain herdswoman mutual-aid team leader honored as a Model Worker for two consecutive years, is in love with Sangbu, another mutual-aid team leader.

Mr. Baolu, a spy, plots to destroy the mutual-aid teams by persuading Sarengewa’s father Ziyire to quit the team.

In a snow storm, Mr. Baolu cuts a rope on the herd fence and releases sheep and horses. In her effort to save the animals, Sarengewa falls off a cliff with her horse, but luckily Sangbu comes to her rescue.

After the storm while Sarengewa is vaccinating injured animals, Baolu poisons a well killing more than 20 sheep and blames it on Sarengewa. At the Model Worker election some complaints are raised about the dead sheep incident on Sarengewa’s team.

After the meeting, Sarengewa sees Mr. Baolu acting suspiciously on a hill slope and finds the prairie on fire. She rides through the smoke to catch Mr. Baolu and the League Chief joins others in extinguishing the fire. With the help of Sarengewa and Sangbu, the police round up a handful of spies, including Mr. Baolu.

At a Model Worker awards meeting the League Chief commends Sarengewa for her great contribution to the prairie.

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