A prophetic article published in 1908 begged three questions: Will a Chinese athlete ever have the honor to call himself an Olympian? Will a Chinese flag bearer ever proudly lead a team to the Olympic stadium? Is it too much of a dream that China will one day host the Olympic Games?
Exactly one century later, all of these questions have clear answers. But the story impressed Daryl Goodrich, the British director who came to Beijing in 2006 to prepare a short film about the host-to-be of the 2008 Olympic Games.
"It was a lovely story that shows Chinese people's dedication to sports," he recalls. "So I used it as the lead of my film."
British director Daryl Goodrich at a Beijing press conference on Saturday. Photos by Jiang Dong
Goodrich is one of the five directors invited by the Beijing government to shoot a five-minute film about the city as they saw it in their eyes. Entitled Vision Beijing, the two-year project also involves Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore, Iranian director Majid Majidi, French director Patrice Leconte and Hong Kong helmer Andrew Lau Wai-Keung.
"Sports and Beijing" is the theme chosen by the 42-year-old Goodrich, known for his promotional film in support of London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. As a retired athlete, Goodrich says he felt the Olympics inspired every small thing about Beijing today.
"My strongest visual moment was people of all ages exercising in a park at 6:30 in the morning," he recalls. "I feel the vitality, energy and zest for life that starts from the very young generation to the old."
In his film Belief, Goodrich captured various scenes of Beijingers enjoying sports, such as elderly people doing tai chi in parks, teenagers having fun on basketball courts and children playing table tennis with former Olympic champion Deng Yaping.
"Sports are full of passion and excitement, just like Beijing," he says.
When asked about the opinion of Steven Spielberg's decision to quit as an adviser to the Games, the huge sports fan insisted that the charm of sports is personal dedication and passion - not anything else.
"I was invited to make a film about sports, about children and to celebrate the Olympic Games. That's what I do, and that's why I came to Beijing, and I had a wonderful time."
Also focusing on ordinary people was Giuseppe Tornatore, who worked to create a touching portrayal of average Beijingers.
His film opens during a busy Beijing morning, when bus driver Li Li recognizes an elderly woman doing tai chi in the park as his former teacher.
So Li pens letters to her former classmates, including an architect, a Peking Opera singer, a tricycle rider and a martial arts coach. Through introducing these classmates' professions, she introduces Beijing's ancient and modern landmarks - the Temple of Heaven, National Center for Performing Arts and Olympic venues - in a natural and engaging way.