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Round Eyes in the
Middle Kingdom

Ronald Levaco
screening schedule


"Round Eyes in the Middle Kingdom" is an award-winning color documentary that tells the story of the Caucasian residents from China from the 1930s to the present. The film opens in 1949 with a family of Westerners-the filmmaker's- fleeing China as the communist revolution spreads. But the camera soon turns to present-day Beijing to solve the mystery of what happened to one Caucasian man who stayed-a Russian Jew, named Israel Epstein, who joined Mao's revolution and decided to become Chinese. After Epstein's parents left for America, as most foreigners did, "Eppy" decided to remain, to become a Chinese citizen and to make Beijing his home. He lives there to the present day.

Why did Israel Epstein join the communist revolution that forced most foreigners to flee? Why did he remain in China after five years of solitary confinement as a suspected spy? And what is his life like today as China's leading foreign journalist? These are puzzling questions the film answers. As for the filmmaker-born in China and taken to America at ten-he returns still deeply troubled by his family's separateness from the Chinese and seeks to clarify his own position by understanding the motives of the "man who stayed"-the man who was his father's closest friend, yet opposite. The film uncovers Epstein's "reasons" and his fate and helps the filmmaker reconcile his comfortable colonial childhood with his memories of famines and the suffering that led to the Chinese revolution in the first place..


Ronald Levaco was born in China in 1940, where his early education was divided between British schools in Tientsin (Tianjin) and Shanghai. Levaco's latest feature documentary, "Round Eyes in the Middle Kingdom," has appeared in over twenty-five international film festivals and has won several presitgious awards. Levaco is presently beginning a new documentary on old people who enter college at the end of their lives to study subjects they had missed.

Contact information:

Ron Levaco, Producer, Director
Trans Film and Video
1192 Page St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
phone: 415-431-9611
fax: 415-864-2573

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