Deng Xiaoping documentary uses rare US archival footage

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 6, 2015
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"Mr. Deng goes to Washington," a documentary film about late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's official visit to the United States in 1979, paid a handsome price for the use of archival video from television networks in the United States.

Poster of "Mr. Deng goes to Washington" [Photo/]

According to Beijing Youth Daily, 90 percent of the archival footage used in the film was purchased from major U.S. TV networks such as ABC, NBC and CBS. The National Archives and Records Administration and the Carter Center also provided some materials for the film.

Producer Lyu Muzi said the video footage cost US$250 per second. Deng Rong, the youngest daughter of Deng Xiaoping, was able to help the film's producers negotiate a better price, "Otherwise we cannot afford the price," Lyu said. As soon as Deng Rong heard that the film was going to be made, she wrote to Jan Berris, vice president of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, seeking help. Berris was also very helpful later in the film production process.

The film details then 75-year-old Vice Premier Deng's nine-day visit to the United States, which included receptions, meetings with American politicians, TV interviews and other events. Deng was also the object of an assassination attempt by a Ku Klux Klan member and an anti-China demonstration by 30,000 people organized by the KMT government on the island of Taiwan. Footage from both of those incidents will make their first appearance on Chinese mainland screens in the new film.

Deng's historic visit took place shortly after the United States established diplomatic relations with China in January 1979. Deng's visit demonstrated China's resolve to open to the world and to learn from developed countries' approaches to science, technology, education and culture.

Director Fu Hongxing said the film honors Deng's contributions to China and his influence on generations of Chinese people. Fu insisted it is not just your average documentary because it reveals historical secrets.

The film also features interviews with personnel involved in Deng's visit, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former U.S. National Security Advisor to President Carter Zbigniew Brzezinski, Deng's bodyguards and White House Secret Service agents. The film also includes 12 clips of cartoon images of Deng Xiaoping. The film will bring cartoons of Deng to the big screen for the first time. Deng's oldest daughter, Deng Lin, reviewed the cartoons and gave the director her personal approval to use them.

Beijing Youth Daily reported that theater managers attending a promotional conference for the film laughed when they heard that the documentary will be released in Chinese theaters alongside the American blockbuster "Avengers: Age of Ultron." But Lyu told them, if not for Deng's nine-day visit to the United States in 1979, no blockbusters like "Avengers" would ever have come to China. Managers applauded the statement.

"Mr. Deng goes to Washington" will be released in China nationwide on May 15.

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