In this feature documentary, Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Shuibo Wang (Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square) aims his camera at the astonishing story of 21 American soldiers who opted to stay in China after the Korean War ended in 1954. Back home in the United States, McCarthyism was at its height and many Americans believed these men were brainwashed by Chinese communists. But what really happened? Using never-before-seen footage from the Chinese camps and interviews with former PoWs and their families, They Chose China tells the fascinating stories of these forgotten American dissidents.
The NFB's 63rd Oscar®-nominated film.
Shui-Bo Wang's feature documentary is a visual autobiography of an artist who grew up in China during the historic upheavals of the ‘60s, '70s and '80s. A rich collage of original artwork and family and archival photos presents a personal perspective on the turbulent Cultural Revolution and the years that followed. For Shui-Bo Wang and others of his generation, Tiananmen Square was the central symbol of the new China – a society to be based on equality and cooperation. This animated documentary artfully traces Shui-Bo's roots and his own life journey as he struggles to sort through ideology and arrive at truth.
Filmmaker Karen Cho travels from Montreal to Vancouver to uncover stories from the last survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act, a set of laws imposed to single out the Chinese as unwanted immigrants to Canada from 1885 to 1947. Through a combination of history, poetry and raw emotion, this documentary sheds light on an era that shaped the identity of generations.
This full-length documentary tells the story of modern Korea, a nation divided in half. The psychic scar shared by families divided during the Korean War in the 1950s is symbolized by the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing communist North from capitalist South. Along this infamous border, filmmaker Min Sook Lee begins an emotion-charged journey into Korea’s broken heart, exploring the rhetoric and realism of reunification through the extraordinary stories of ordinary people. An eloquent tale of longing and hope,
This feature documentary is a biography of Dr. Norman Bethune, the Canadian doctor who served with the loyalists during the Spanish Civil War and with the North Chinese Army during the Sino-Japanese War. In Spain he pioneered the world's first mobile blood-transfusion service; in China his work behind battle lines to save the wounded has made him a legendary figure.
This short documentary follows a group of students from Hamilton, Ontario, on a rare three-week “tour” of China in 1972. These teenagers were the first North American students to visit China since 1949, when Mao Tse Tung’s Communists overthrew the Nationalist Government of Chiang Kai-shek.
Tom Radford's documentary chronicles the life of Chester Ronning, best remembered for his close and longstanding relationship with China. Over the course of his life, Ronning worked as a cowboy, ambassador, college president, missionary and a member of the Alberta legislature. But throughout all of his careers, his lifelong ambition was to explain China to the western world. His story is a rare example of the meeting of East and West in a compassionate, remarkable man.
This documentary from 1980 depicts a factory community in China where over 6000 workers process, spin and weave raw cotton into 90 million yards of high-quality cloth per year. Also seen are the workers' residential, social, recreational and educational facilities, all located on factory property. The film presents an engrossing study of a lifestyle that is very different from that of the Western world.
This 1957 documentary short offers an analysis of South Africa's acute race problem, an issue that causes dissension not only within its borders but within the Commonwealth and beyond. In South Africa, a country of 14 million people, 4 out of 5 people are black. The film gives a dispassionate appraisal of the motivations behind the policy of apartheid and of whether the practice of segregation provides a satisfactory, long-term solution.
Several years ago, after taking part in the mass uprisings against Bashar al-Assad, Adnan al-Mhamied had to flee Syria with his wife, Basmah, and their four children. Now settled in Montreal, the family opens their door to filmmaker Pascal Sanchez. They’ve adjusted to life in a peaceful city, but Adnan and Basmah still fear for loved ones back in Syria whose status and whereabouts remain unknown. The war that’s thousands of kilometres away continues to haunt them, surging suddenly to the fore in a conversation, Skype call or Facebook feed. Far from Bashar chronicles an endearing family as they go about their lives, tormented by a distant and seemingly interminable conflict.
Julia Kwan’s feature-length documentary Everything Will Be captures a significant moment of time in Vancouver’s Chinatown, with the influx of condos and new, non-Chinese businesses. The film follows a year in the life of several Chinatown denizens, including a 90-year-old Chinese newspaper street vendor and a second-generation tea shop owner, as they navigate this community in flux.
This documentary gives us a glimpse inside the influential but little-known community of Vancouver’s Hong Kong Chinese. Prejudices fall by the wayside as we discover the community's way of life and the vital role it plays in the Canadian and world economy through a moving, intimate portrait of the Lam family, who arrived here in 1991.
Ages 14 to 17
Civics/Citizenship - Ideologies
History and Citizenship Education - Civil Rights and Freedoms
Have a discussion to see if the class agrees that some of the men stayed behind because they were going to have a better life than if they returned to the United States. Ask students if they would make the same decision and why. One of the POWs said he does not "think we have the right to interfere in a civil war in another country when it's not even close to our own shore". What do students think about that comment given the circumstances today (war in Afghanistan)? Should North America interfere with foreign domestic conflicts?