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Nanfu Wang on Growing Up With China’s One Child Policy & State Propaganda | Close Up

Nanfu Wang on Growing Up With China’s One Child Policy & State Propaganda | Close Up


(soft music) – I’d like to start with talking about choosing your subject. You guys are gonna spend years
sometimes with these people and these topics. How do you decide what to do? Nanfu why don’t you begin? – Well first that was actually a challenge because our subject was
the one child policy and China has more than a billion people so almost everyone has a story
about the one child policy to talk about out. So eventually we decided
we want to do 360 degree with the policy, people who carried out the policy and people who were the
victims of the policy. What turns out when we
started meeting people we realized even the people
who carried out the policy, they are part of the victims too. So that was actually we
decided officials, midwives, women, and people who does propaganda, and we decided to choose one
of the representatives of each. We have a lot of archival, almost all archival are
produced by the state so it’s showing the state propaganda and almost that’s all the
role that the archival played and when I grew up I
grew up in the propaganda. Everything I saw was propaganda.
– Propaganda. – So there were songs,
the theaters, movies, and before I could even
speak you know I learned songs meaning that I
don’t know like communism and socialism and everything
and this became the back of my mind and I don’t even question it. Until now I’m making the
film and for the first time I’m looking back to my past and realized how they had affected the way that I think and
realized how much my ideology and world view were
shaped by the propaganda and now I’m finding them again. Luckily because how
much the state produce, I believe Russia is the same, that is everywhere. So we would go on
internet, YouTube, you know and then also antique
bookstore we would find a ton of those propaganda. – Here in US or in China? – [Nanfu] Both. Even YouTube has a lot of
people uploaded it but of course back in China there were way more. (soft music) – It’s so interesting I
feel growing up surrounded by propaganda that you
would choose documentary film-making as your profession. Do you see any link
between these two things? – Well I had never even seen
a documentary until I came to the US in 2011. I came and I was 26 and thought I was gonna become a
journalist so we could write about that injustice in China. – To Ohio by the way. (laughs)
– In Ohio and then I took a documentary class and there
I saw so many documentaries for the first time. I mean I told Alex that I
saw “Taxi to the Dark Side” twice in the class. (laughs)
And that moment I was like oh my god I never
knew that documentaries could be like this ’cause
in China with the censorship and the restriction the
documentaries are about Chinese magnificent landscape (laughs) or history and great Chinese food. That’s about it. And I thought that was
what documentary was about until I finally saw it
could be about social issue, it could be compelling
and about characters and that was like okay I want to do this. (soft music) – Thinking about audience, is there one person who
you really would love to have see your film? – Ironically like the people
that we want them see the film most are the people who can’t see. It’s Chinese people because
we make film hopefully that would challenge the
official narrative in China and the people there
because the information was so restricted that they
tend to believe the propaganda. Still my friends all
turned against me and say, “Why do you make a film that
damage our national image?” and so I lost a lot of my closest friends because they believed that I got brainwashed
by the Western media. – [All] Oh. – And it was funny that even
my mom who saw the film, my mom has never been to a movie theater, talking about your mom, she’s never been to a movie
theater before and so I brought her to Sundance ’cause I
thought if she’s ever gonna see a film of mine that would be
the experience because she was in the film and after she
saw the film she was like, “Yeah your film was so true
and so it was everything like I witnessed but I
still support the policy.” (laughs)
– Oh! – Yeah it just showed me how
effective the propaganda was. She lived her entire life there. (soft music)

1 comment on “Nanfu Wang on Growing Up With China’s One Child Policy & State Propaganda | Close Up

  1. Talk to Oliver Stone and Peter Kuzniak and Professor Richard Wolff. You are too young and in experienced to even begin to understand the history and the social issues of the world to let alone document them.

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