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IAF, State Theatre present mini Chinese film series

TRAVERSE CITY — In collaboration with the State Theatre, NMC’s International Affairs Forum will present four Chinese films between March and May as a springboard to its upcoming China conference in June.

The films range from high-stakes thrillers to historical epics, family classics to incisive contemporary documentaries:

  • March 25: Infernal Affairs at 6 p.m. – This award-winning 2002 thriller is the story of the race between a Chinese mafia mole in a police department and an undercover cop, each attempting to identify the other. After winning top prizes in Asia, in 2006 Martin Scorsese remade the film as The Departed which went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Post-film discussion facilitated by Gary Howe, who lived in China and graduated from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center before returning to Traverse City where he teaches world geography at NMC and serves as an elected city commissioner.
  • April 15: The Last Emperor at 6 p.m. – Winner of nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, this 1987 film was the first authorized by the Chinese government to be filmed in the Forbidden City. It follows the true story of Puyi, China’s last emperor, from his ascent to the throne as a small boy to his imprisonment and political rehabilitation by Communists.
  • May 3: Big Bird in China at 10 a.m. (25-cent kids matinee) – Everyone’s favorite Sesame Street character meets Chinese schoolchildren, learns Chinese words and visits sites like the Great Wall. Filmed on location in Beijing and other locales, this is a great way to introduce kids – and parents – to China!
  • May 13: Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry at 6 p.m. – The 2012 hit documentary, one of the favorites at the eighth Traverse City Film Festival, chronicles Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei as he prepares for a series of exhibitions and gets into an increasing number of clashes with the Chinese government. A fascinating look at contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures.

The Traverse City Film Festival, under the leadership and direction of its founder and president Michael Moore, owns and operates the State Theatre as a year-round, community-based, and volunteer-run art house movie theater. The State shows great independent films year-round, along with many special programs, including this China-related series.

“With Chinese cinema's rich artistic legacy and the unique ability of film to transcend borders, this film series aims to offer a compelling cultural exploration of China. We hope it will spark community-wide conversation,” said Moore.

Regular admission ticket prices apply for the movies, including the 25 cent Saturday kids matinee price for Big Bird in China. Visit for complete details and ticket information.

The film series is among several China-focused spring events IAF is presenting or partnering with in an effort to shed light and generate curiosity about the world’s most populous nation prior to its conference, “China: Competitor or Partner?” set for the Hagerty Center June 5-6. Tickets for the conference, whose speakers include a former assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and the Beijing correspondent for The Economist, go on sale April 30.

“Our region’s education, business and cultural ties with China are growing, creating both opportunities and challenges,” said IAF board member and China conference chair Debbie Rough. “IAF believes its role is to help Grand Traverse residents gain a clear view of the big picture, through both the conference and the prelude events.”

The presenting conference sponsors are NMC and the FIM Group.

“FIM Group is honored to partner with Northwestern Michigan College on the China Conference. We see this conference as an opportunity for our community to engage deeper into international connections and activate a dialogue of advancement,” said FIM Group president Paul Sutherland.

In addition to the film series, IAF’s spring lectures – the third Thursday of each month at Milliken Auditorium -- all feature speakers on Chinese and Asian issues. Tickets are $10 at door or free to student and educators.

IAF is also co-sponsoring award-winning Chinese-American author Anchee Min’s April 24 appearance at the National Writers Series. Min’s writing has been praised for its raw, sharp language and historical accuracy. Min credits the English language with giving her a means to express herself, arming her with the voice and vocabulary to write about growing up during China’s Cultural Revolution. “There was no way for me to describe those experiences or talk about those feelings in Chinese,” she has said of a language too burdened by Maoist rhetoric. Today, she writes candidly about events she was once encouraged to bury. The New York Times has called her “a wild, passionate and fearless American writer.”

NMC’s Dennos Museum Center spring exhibitions also dovetail with the Chinese/Asia focus, including the return of the popular Tibetan monks creating a sand mandala painting April 14-19 and an exhibition by Korean sculptor Seung Mo Park starting May 3. A special exhibit of contemporary Chinese photography entitled “How to Return?” curated by the m97 Gallery in Shanghai will also be featured at the June conference.

For more information, visit

Release date: March 18, 2014

For more information:

Karen Segal
International Affairs Forum co-chair
(231) 715-6064

Section Navigation Academic Programs