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Stories of Mao Zedong Inspire China's Movie, TV Directors
The far-reaching influence of his charisma and great insights about Chinese people justify making films and TV plays about Mao Zedong, says a Chinese director on the 109th anniversary of the late leader's birth.

Every year, China produces films and TV programs about its great men like Mao, founder of the People's Republic of China. Wang Xuexin, director of the film Mao Zedong and Edgar Snow, said such films were shot not to meet government demands but from the choice of producers and directors.

"Film studios and TV program producers are now enterprises in the market economy. We shoot such films because we believe there is the demand from the audience and the market," Wang said.

Most Chinese people currently in their thirties have known of Mao Zedong since they were in kindergarten or at primary school, where they could see the great man's portrait on the walls of their classrooms or appreciate his literary talent in their textbooks. Some of Mao's poems and essays still feature in textbooks for primary and middle school students.

"The Chinese people feel great respect and love for Mao Zedong, and the great man's influence on them can't be replaced, though the country and its people have seen enormous social and economic changes. So I think such films satisfy the emotions of the Chinese people," Wang said.

Wang said there were still many stories about Mao untouched by film and TV producers. "As long as we can go into the touching and magnificent episodes of Mao's life and revolutionary career, we can make good films and TV plays that people will enjoy."

In 2000, Wang directed the film Mao Zedong and Edgar Snow, featuring the friendship between the late Chinese leader and Snow, an American journalist who visited the Chinese Communists' revolutionary base in the country's northwest in 1936 and published the book Red Star Over China the following year.

Chinese cinemas screened the film from June 2001 and China Central Television has shown it on its film channel from September this year. Wang said the production was welcomed by the Chinese people.

According to Wang, who attended a symposium on Edgar Snow in Kansas, Missouri, of the United States in October this year, the film was also appreciated by Snow researchers in the states.

Wang quoted Carol S. Koehler, an associate professor of art and mass communication at Kansas University, as saying that the film was attractive because it respected truth, not only focusing on the friendship between the pair but reflecting the clash between them caused by their different cultural backgrounds and ideas.

Barbara Weary, director of the Edgar Snow Foundation of the United States, expressed hope that the film could help more Americans, especially young people, to understand China, Mao and Snow.

Wang said he was considering shooting another film about Mao Zedong.

(Xinhua News Agency December 27, 2002)

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