Documentary: My Beijing Birthday

James Fallows, Beijing-based correspondent with The Atlantic, recommends an hour-long documentary by Howie Snyder. He writes in his blog:

My wife and I saw a preview screening of the film before a small audience in Beijing back in July. (The audience was small mainly because of the pre-Olympic Beijing security hysteria. Authorities were discouraging or prohibiting gatherings of any size, for any reason, on grounds of general paranoia.) My main reaction after seeing it was the hope that very large audiences would be able to see it soon.

The set-up and plot-line sound bizarre when described. Howie Snyder, a New Yorker and skillful Mandarin-speaker now in his 40s, was in Beijing twelve years ago attending a school for traditional Chinese “cross-talk” stand-up comics. All the other students in the class were Chinese eight-year-olds. They specialize young here. Part of the film is footage of Snyder and his classmates back then; the other part is a revisit to the school this year, showing very dramatically what the passage of time has meant for Snyder, for the city of Beijing, for the tough-but-heart-of-gold director of the school, and for the kids, now age 20.

The official website of documentary has more details.


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