The West Meets Eastern Culture (October 26, 2013)

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Published: October 26, 2013
By Erin Kurvers, The Creightonian

The Creighton community was  recently exposed to Chinese film culture when Zhou Jun spoke about China’s “New Generation” of directors.

The event in the Skutt Student Center was sponsored by the Asian World Center and the Fine and Performing Arts Center “in part to continue our interdisciplinary campaign to further promote a mutual understanding of eastern and western culture,” said Andrew Trapp, Program Coordinator for the Asian World Center.

Trapp explained that the Asian World Center hopes this event helped Creighton community members learn about the differences between the “East” and “West” of China as stressed in today’s Chinese cinema.

Frederick Hanna, Fine and Performing Arts chair, added that his department offers classes in film, so this was an interesting discussion that correlated well with the Fine and Performing Arts.

Zhou’s Oct. 3 talk was focused on the differing approaches the upcoming generations of Chinese film directors are using especially with regards to masculinity.

Trapp said that the new directors take a more self-reflective point of view in regards to China’s underprivileged, as opposed to past directors who symbolically used male images to express the anger they felt in regards to China’s Cultural Revolution.

“To accurately understand what is really going on in Chinese film and what it means for us even here in the U.S. requires in-depth analysis and significant experience, and that is what Dr. Zhou offers and what makes her an essential piece to making sense of this deeply complex topic,” Trapp said.

Hanna explained that the discussion touched on human rights issues as relevant to the films.

“During the lecture, there was mention of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 which we clearly know of in America,” Hanna said. “So young people in China are just now able to talk about it.”

Shaoqing (Sabrina) Guo, a Ph.D candidate from China attended the lecture and became aware of different aspects of her country’s history through film, learning that the older generation of directors were more reflective than she had thought.

“She mentioned several social problems of current China, such as ‘the education of the left-behind Children’, ‘human rights’, ‘dignity’,” Guo said. “I began to realize that actually the directors did point out such problems in 1990s before WTO or Internet came to China which means they are so introspective and they criticized the society not because they are influenced by western culture.”

Zhou’s lecture resonated with Guo, who agreed with what she had to say.

“I agree on her opinion that China should create more and more independent films,” Guo said. “Movie is an important part of the culture which not only reflects the society but influences the society.”

Not only did this lecture help introduce the Creighton community to Chinese film culture, but it also signified an alliance between Creighton and Zhou’s university, Nanjing University of the Arts. Hanna and Maorong Jiang, the director of the Asian World Center, have both visited the Nanjing University of the Arts, and Zhou’s presence here signifies a growing collaboration between the two universities.

“This talk also represents the continued cooperation and collaboration between Creighton University and Nanjing University of the Arts,” Trapp said.

The collaboration and discussion of events such as this offers the Creighton community the opportunity to learn new things and become more culturally aware and open-minded.