This year, some students from Chinese class went to Full Frame and watched the 2016 documentary Still Tomorrow, which has not been shown in China yet. We were 5 minutes late because we went to American Tobacco campus initially. Below are the reflections written by some students who went to the movie screening with me:
Ryan Morgan (’20): This movie was very well put together, and I very much enjoyed the people that starred in it. The documentary style has always been an interesting one in my opinion, but I think that it worked out well for this one. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was walking in (late) because I only saw a group of people eating. It ended up being a story of loneliness and depression, and I feel like it captured the essence of those things very well. In conclusion, this movie was pretty great, and it allowed me to learn about an extremely interesting person.
Andy Wang (’20): I think the portrayal of Yu Xiu Hua’s journey in this documentary was a wholly authentic message that reveals feelings that are a central part of the shared human journey. The memory that this film left with me is still felt, with memorable scenes returning and bringing the emotions with. Each obstacle and each triumph was truly shown by the intimate closeness the camera had, filming Yu Xiu Hua’s personal life at these times. The quality of the movie as a genuine film as opposed to an amateur documentary shocked me. Each piece of the film fit together, each choice was expertly crafted. One scene that exemplified the unity of the film was toward the end. Yu Xiu Hua sat in her chair, typing on a precariously tilting table. It was a perfect ending, calling back to a mirrored scene in the beginning of the film.
Batu Palanduz (’19): This movie was well made and i think that if we had seen the opening 5 minutes, then the documentary would have carried more importance. Either way, it was interesting seeing all the media asking questions about Yu Xiuhua’s opinions about herself. They all seemed to be asking her the same things; “Do you fear your poems are perceived as crude” and “have you accepted yourself”. Also, her husband’s interactions with her were shocking in my opinion. I was surprised that almost all her poems had to do with love and sex. The fact that she was able to get her book published was impressive to me because i know that some of the older nations have very strict cultures. I was surprised that no one called her works disgusting or revolting. This shows that the world is slowly moving in the right direction.
Davi Sapiro-Gheiler (’19): I think that the movie addressed many important points about physical disability and gender. It was interesting to see how physical disability is treated in China. If she wasn’t famous, would she be treated the same way or would she be looked down upon as an inferior citizen? Seeing her relationship with her husband play out and how she took control of the situation was truly inspiring. The fact that her mother was so appalled by the situation shed light on gender roles in Chinese society. I liked how the movie was very non-traditional. A lot of movies about China focus on things that the media and the general public would like, not on deeper issues (like this movie focused on). It was interesting to see a Chinese movie that was not about food, martial arts, or pollution.
Kaynaz Soheili (’19): I think it would have been better to see the first few minutes, but overall, I thought it was a good documentary. It was very interesting to see this woman poet, Yu Xiuhua, who had cerebral palsy, put her emotion into her work and write such good poetry. I loved the genuineness she put into her poems and the relationships she had with her family members before and after she got famous. Once she had achieved fame, when she would have interviews, she wasn’t at all self-conscious about her appearance and would freely talk about her condition’s effects. People just loved her, and she was made China’s Emily Dickinson.
It was very interesting to see how her life at home played out after she reached fame. Particularly, her determination in her divorce was very interesting to watch. She would not stop at anything until she was free of her husband and at first was reluctant to get divorced because the stories that might’ve been written about her, now that she was famous. At the same time, she had to carry along with her the tough issue of her mother having cancer. This was especially crucial during her divorce because her sick mother did not think it was the right decision to make. But, before the credits rolled, there was a picture of her mother at the end of the documentary and the text at the bottom dedicated it to her. I thought it was a nice ending.