Friday is film night in HMB: Demolishing culture in modern China

Press release
posted by Barry Parr
Thu, July 31, 2014
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Missing Home is a documentary that explores the affects of modernization on the people of China- specifically its effects on the culture & lives of people living in Hutongs, Beijing’s ancient sprawling alleys.


Feature: MISSING HOME - the Last Days of Beijing Hutongs
Fri, Aug 1st at 7:30
Coastside Senior Housing/Senior Coastsiders facility
925 Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA
Admission: $5

Hutongs, which date to the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1341), have long been regarded as the heart and soul of Beijing. They are chock-a-block with family homes and crammed with countless small shops and restaurants, but are now disappearing at a prodigious rate as Beijing modernizes. It is estimated that 80% of these revered ancient alleyways have been plowed under in the last decade, displacing close to 580,000 souls. Few of the displaced residents have reaped the prosperity that was promised to accompany modernization – most face more economic struggles than ever before.

Although the loss of the historic architecture is significant, it is perhaps more important to note the loss of an ancient social network of neighbors and friends, of spirit & culture that have defined the way of life in Beijing for centuries of generations. A collective way of life is being edged out by sterile high-rises, which are rapidly inundating the spaces Hutongs once filled. This displacement & replacement stands at the heart of an increasingly controversial dialogue about progress and modernization in China: How can the China of the future balance the preservation of culturally & historically significant traditions & sites, while building a global city?

Chinese director Weimin Zhang grew up in a Hutong. She remembers it as a wonderful world where all the adults treated all the neighborhood kids as members of an extended family. She left to attend the Beijing Film Academy and to get her masters at Ohio University.

While Zhang was away becoming a famous director the government tore down her Hutong home to make way for a modern high rise. It was a shock that got her to start work on a documentary about the Hutong way of life built around conversations with old beloved neighbors about what they love about their Hutong homes and what they will miss when they are all gone. 

Director Weimin Zhang will attend the screening and take questions from the audience. Long considered one of the standout film makers of China’s sixth generation of filmmakers, she holds degrees from both the Beijing Film Academy and the Ohio University film school.  She has recently taken a post at the Film School at San Francisco State. 

More info and directions to the venue at www.HMBFilm.org .

Directions to the screening: The Film Society screens films at the new Senior Coastsiders facility within the sprawling Coastside Senior Housing Complex. Because the building is brand spanking new Google maps and other mapping programs may not direct you properly. Typing in the address (not the name) should get you close. Or check out the map provided on the Film Society website.

The parking lot is off of Arnold Way.  Feel free to park in one of the 35 parking spaces marked SC-Reserved or CADH-Reserved or on Main Street in front of the complex. Do not park in any numbered spaces. The entrance is to the right of the fountain next to the parking lot.

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