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It should be no surprise that the movie Destination Shanghai depicts the dark side of the city. Hemingway's novels are all about very helpeless, hopeless characters. Ordinary people and ordinary happenings don't sell. Shanghai was suffocated by Red regime in 1949 up to the 1990's when all its big financial production, revenues were ordered to hand over to Beijing. During that long period, no construction or progress was seen, acdg to Shanghai-landers. Now they are catching up with, not Taipei, but New York. Quite ambitious! Yet it has a long way to go before the whole country can become really democratic, incl freedom of press, freedom of speech, hunger....)

Bon Journal

Welcome to Destination Shanghai

Movies, like art, music, and food, are products of a creative mind. At international film festivals, viewers get to see films before they hit local cinemas. It's such a shame that I have only time to see one movie in the current London Film Festival.

My friends and I walked to the ICA on Pall Mall after our Chinese dinner. It's a place I used to frequent when I was living nearby. Tonight, the ICA was debuting director Andrew Cheng's new opus: Welcome to Destination Shanghai.

We sat in the front row as all other seats had been reserved several days before. After a brief introduction, the speaker gave the microphone to Cheng. He looks to be a man in his thirties and spoke very modestly about his movie. A TV director by day, he enjoys experimenting with new film-making software.

The movie is not at all what I expected. Being half-Shanghainese, I long to visit this city that my father has talked about since my childhood. He said that it was once known as Paris of the East, and Shanghainese women were very cosmopolitan and sophisticated. The movie showed none of this, but rather, a dark seedy side.

I was shocked to the bone. Is this the Shanghai my father spoke so highly of? Where is the beauty? Where is the dignity?

Andrew Cheng wanted to show a side of Shanghai that societies in transition hide. There is so much going on, he said, Shanghai is changing very fast. I am only afraid that the Shanghai my father remembers will be completely gone by the time I get the chance to visit.

30 October 2003 Thursday

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Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.