With the Cold War fading into memory, this story must be told!
Shui-Bo Wang was a teenager in Eastern China when he saw his first Westerner, a man riding a green bicycle. “He could have been from outer space,” he says, so cut off was China from the rest of the world during the cold war. The man was James Veneris, a former American POW who, at the close of the Korean War, chose China for a home, one of 22 POWs, including one Briton, to do so. But if he seemed alien to Wang, Veneris came to be right at home in China, married, working in a factory and speaking New York-inflected Chinese. Wang's documentary illuminates on many levels as it explores the fates of three such expatriates, only one of whom, David Hawkins, is still living and returns to China with the filmmaker. At the time, the “turncoats” (a word Mike Wallace emphasizes repeatedly in archival sequences) were thought to have been brainwashed, Manchurian Candidate style. Wang unearths rare and fascinating footage that reveals a different story of individuals who, out of loathing for McCarthy's America, chose a people they viewed as peace loving and who repaid their admiration until the tide turned with the Cultural Revolution.
It is January 1954. The Korean War is over. Captured UN soldiers held in POW camps are free to return home. Those who refuse repatriation to their homeland are transferred to a neutral zone and given 90 days to reconsider their decision. Among them are 21 American soldiers who decide defiantly to stay in China.
Back in the United States, McCarthyism is at its height. Many Americans believe these young men have been brainwashed by Chinese communists through a new form of thought control. But what really happened?
Featuring never-before-seen footage from the Chinese camps as well as interviews with former POWs and their families, They Chose China tells the fascinating stories of these forgotten American dissidents.
With the Cold War fading into memory, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Shuibo Wang (Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square) aims his camera on this astonishing story. In They Chose China, we meet and begin to understand a group of courageous men who fought for and then cut ties with the USA.
Duration:52 min 26 s
Producer: Claude Bonin
Mar 20, 2009, 18:42:40
Number of files