Film honors China's aerospace heroes

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 23, 2021
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Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi pays tribute to China's generations of astronauts and aerospace industry workers with her directorial debut "Poem."

Actress-and-director Zhang Ziyi poses with the two child stars from her directorial debut "Poem" alongside guests from the aerospace and film industry at a special event held in Beijing Aerospace City in Beijing, Sept. 21, 2021. [Photo courtesy of China Film Co., Ltd.]

A special screening of the film was held on Sept. 21, the Mid-Autumn Festival, which also coincided with the 29th anniversary of the launch of China's manned spaceship program, at Beijing Aerospace City. The event was attended by actress-and-director Zhang Ziyi, executive producer Huang Jianxin, and producer Fu Ruoqing. Also present were prominent figures from China's aerospace industry including Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut in space; Qi Faren, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, technical leader of China's first satellite DFH-1 and former chief designer of China's Shenzhou spaceships; Gao Chongwu, former head of the Sixth Research Institute of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Limited (CASIC) and former director of the Development Planning Department of Aerospace Science and Industry Group; and Xu Liping, national-level senior aerospace technician who is also a prototype for the film. Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut, also spoke to the audience and exchanged words with the film's two child actors via video link.

"Poem" tells an emotional story about two children's memories of their parents who were part of the DFH-1 satellite program, as well as their sacrifices and dedication to the cause, with the father calling himself "a poet for the sky." The short film is one of four shorts that form an anthology titled "My Country, My Parents." It will be released nationwide on Sept. 30 to coincide with the busy National Day holiday period. 

After the advanced screening, many of the audience members were in tears. Qi Faren, 88, recalled the hardships and struggles of China's aerospace workers in the early days of the industry, who even faced the risk of losing their lives. "The film reenacts all those years when we were burning with passion for the country's aerospace cause," Qi said. 

Gao Chongwu added that the film provides a realistic and detailed portrayal of the times, so much so that he felt as if he had been transported back in time. "I'm in tears. They've done a great job reproducing our memories," he said.

Actress-and-director Zhang Ziyi poses with the two child actors from her directorial debut "Poem" at a special event held in Beijing Aerospace City in Beijing, Sept. 21, 2021. [Photo courtesy of China Film Co., Ltd.]

Zhang Ziyi not only directs but also stars in the film as a rocket fuel expert and mother of two. "I'm a fan of aerospace heroes, and I'm thrilled to meet Yang Liwei today," she said. “Making this film is not just a responsibility for me, but also a challenge." She also admitted that it was nerve-wracking to have so many aerospace legends and workers as her first audience. Fortunately for Zhang, all the feedback she received was positive.

Producer Fu Ruoqing, who is also the general manager of the China Film Group Corporation, added that Chinese filmmakers are ever grateful to China's aerospace workers whose dedication and spirit has inspired generations, and is the source of the film's creation.

"I remember my first space flight," Yang Liwei echoed. “During the countdown, I made a salute gesture, not only expressing my confidence as a Chinese astronaut, but also paying tribute to the hard work, hardship and sweat of the generations of aerospace workers."

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