Logline: One day in Columbus Park, New York Chinatown.
Length: 8 minutes
Director: Grace (Ge) Gao
Producer: Grace (Ge) Gao
About the director and producer: Grace is a senior in NYU Tisch Film/TV Undergraduate program. She focuses on writing/director, and international co-production.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): sales agents, buyers, distributors, journalist, producer for feature expansion
Made in association with: New York University
Why did you make a film called All Under Heaven Are Equal?
It’s the scripture under the Sun Yat-sen statue in Columbus Park, Chinatown in New York, quoting from Confucius’ writing. The idea talks about how the natural rule of order respects equality among citizens in different social status.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
This documentary short film captures the melting-pot quality of New York. We are seeing and hearing different perspectives on everyone’s feeling about Chinatown and this neighborhood. There are European tourists, local senior residents, second generation immigrant millennials, new immigrants from Mainland China.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I made this film because I am geographically and psychologically confused every single time when I step into Chinatown. As a first generation immigrant who moved to the states at the age of 16, I cannot find the image of modern day China in Chinatown at all. Residents there mostly speak Cantonese or other southeastern dialects, so I can’t even communicate with them smoothly as a Mandarin speaker.
Therefore I was determined to know this neighborhood better as an outsider. The documentary presents my one-day adventure interacting with subjects from different background, while observing the scenery and activity in the park.
At the same time, I’m also curious about the living state of the residents in Chinatown. Are they truly satisfied with their life in U.S.A? Does Sun Yat-sen’s ideal “All Under Heaven Are Equal” live on in a white dominated country across the Pacific Ocean? How do people think about China nowadays? How do Chinese immigrants feel about their home country?
Here you can see the personal qualm lead me to search for deeper universal theme. They feed each other well and help me build a strong story.
How has the script and film evolved over the course of its development and production?
Originally I wanted to center the film around the entire Chinatown. However due to time constraint, I limited myself to Columbus park, which actually doesn’t weaken the story at all. Here we have a focus point that includes all kinds of visitors in one location.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
There are some technical issue in sound which we tried to eliminate but still exist. Some images in editing are too literal. It aligns with the talking on purpose which can look redundant.
On the positive side, my professor Nilita Vachani calls it “when Fred Wiseman meets Heddy Honigmann”. Oscar winning documentary filmmaker Christina Choy also encourages me to expand it into a feature. Most of the audience find it not only entertaining in performance, but also profound in reflecting social issues.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Nothing too surprising. They help me point out my next step to develop into a bigger piece or refine the current one.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
The short film itself portrays a subculture community that hasn’t been represented by media often. I would love to present my brief understanding of people’s living state in Chinatown, New York, and bring more awareness to the Asian American community in the country.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Journalists. If I’m expanding the project into the feature, I would love to work with a producer as well.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
This is a simple vignette of one location in Chinatown, a small scale representation of Chinese immigrant neighborhood in America. Of course it is not broad enough to speak for the entire demographic, but I would love to use this short film as an ignition for more filmmakers and journalists to explore this topic.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Do Chinese immigrants live “happily ever after” now that they are in a democratic society? Are they well integrated in the big environment? What does mainstream media think of them?
Would you like to add anything else?
I made this short film out of curiosity and homesickness.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
ALL UNDER HEAVEN ARE EQUAL will be premiered in Cannes Short Film Corner May 19th, 2016 Thursday 4:00pm in Palais G. We are also looking into several short film program that could potentially pick up our project and release it in the network on our online platforms.
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela