"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.
Ron Levaco, Producer, Director
Trans Film and Video
1192 Page St.
San Francisco, CA 94117