They Chose China
(52 minutes) Canada/China
Director/Producer: Shuibo Wang
In January 1954, months after the end of the Korean War, U.S. soldiers held in POW camps were at last free to return home. A small group, however, refused repatriation to the U.S. and, after being given ninety days to reconsider their decision, twenty-one American soldiers decided to stay in China. Using rare archival footage, excerpts from American and Chinese TV programs, as well as period and contemporary interviews, They Chose China chronicles the fascinating history of this group of young Americans who were hailed in China as "peace fighters" and denounced in America as "turncoats" and "traitors." U.S. media claimed that these young POW's had been "brainwashed" by the Chinese communists. The film shows conditions inside these Chinese camps, featuring never-before-seen footage, plus contemporary interviews with some of the camps' Chinese translators, instructors, lecturers, and officers. The majority of the twenty-one Americans, having eventually become disillusioned, returned to America where they recanted their statements and were imprisoned by the military. Others remained in China, got educations, worked in a variety of jobs, married, and raised families.
Shuibo Wang was born in China. Raised during Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution, he became a propaganda artist for the People's Liberation Army in the late 1970s. In the early 1980s, Shuibo studied visual arts at the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, and then taught at the same school as an assistant professor. Shuibo came to Canada as a graduate student in the fall of 1989. He began his career in film assisting animator Fredric Back on his last film, the Academy Award-nominated The Mighty River. Shuibo's first film, Sunrise over Tiananmen Square, was a visual autobiography of his youth during the historic upheavals of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. A brilliant portrayal of an artist struggling to sort through ideology and arrive at truth, the film was nominated for an Academy Award in 1999. His second film, Swing in Beijing, is a feature documentary on the underground art scene in China. They Chose China is his third film. In 2006 the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation honored Shuibo Wang with a fellowship.
First Run/Icarus Films
32 Court Street, #2107
Brooklyn, NY 11201
©2006 United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF)