“Finding Home”: Documentary about China’s Kidnapped Children
People’s Daily’s sister publication, the Global Times, interviews Charles Custer of China Geeks about his work filming a documentary about kidnapped children in China. (Custer even manages to sneak in a mention of CDT and the work of Rachel Beitarie.):
How did you first hear about the subject of kidnapped children?
When I was in Harbin, I saw a child begging and thought to ask a friend, an ex-cop, about it. He explained the whole thing to me, and since then I’ve been paying attention. A few months ago, Rachel Beitarie, of China Digital Times and bendilaowai.com, sent around photos of a child who was obviously being forced by someone to do contortionist stuff on the street, and that reminded me of it again. Some estimates have it that about 70,000 children are kidnapped every year in China [figure from UK Channel 4 documentary China’s Kidnapped Children]. The government tries to prevent it, obviously, and the police do a good job. They’ve been implementing methods such as DNA tracking to try to get a hold on the situation, but it’s a tough battle. The bottom line is probably that as long as the market exists, they won’t be able to eradicate it totally.
The approach I want to take is to look at the personal and emotional side, which I think sometimes gets downplayed or just left out of the way the news media works, especially in the West.
What are you trying to achieve with Finding Home?
I just want to draw more attention to this subject in the hopes that it might do these people who’ve lost their family members some good. I want people to see the story behind, for example, that girl playing the violin on the street that’s in our appeal video. Yes, it’s very sad, but who is she? How did she get there? Where is her family? What position will she be in 20 years from now? I think if more people knew what they were seeing when they saw her, more people would try to do something about it.
For viewers abroad who won’t ever come to China, I think there’s value in putting faces on “China” and faces onto these social problems. Making a film about Chinese people that foreigners can relate to, I think that then affects their perceptions about Chinese people as a group. I want people in the US to watch this movie and come away feeling like they really know some Chinese people, and not just feel like it’s a problem that’s happening to “those people over there.”
Watch below for more about “Finding Home”: