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‘Moving the Mountain’ offers glimpse into Tiananmen reality

By Daily Bruin Staff

May 9, 1995 9:00 p.m.

‘Moving the Mountain’ offers glimpse into Tiananmen reality

Documentary by ‘Nell’ director screens at Melnitz tonight,
discussion to follow

By Barbara Hernandez

Daily Bruin Staff

The efforts to preserve the memory of China’s Tiananmen Square
protest movement of 1989 have culminated into Moving the Mountain,
screening tonight at Melnitz.

Directed by Michael Apted (Nell), who will be on hand to discuss
the film afterwards, Moving the Mountain captures the events that
occurred in 1989, following the death of Communist Party General Hu
Yaobang (a progressive leader sympathetic to student concerns)
which began months of protests in Tiananmen Square.

Demanding dialogue with government leaders, thousands of
students gathered and protested in May, giving rise to a hunger
strike and more student supporters. In mid-May, the Chinese
government imposed martial law, leading to troops surrounding the
city and an emotionally charged showdown. By June 3, the withdraw
occurs due to military crackdown. In the next week, the government
issues a most-wanted list.

"What’s most dramatic is the archival footage," says James
Friedman, director of Melnitz Movies. "There is some dramatization
in the documentary, but it has a lot of what happened in Tiananmen
Square."

The central figure of the student movement, and on whom the film
is most based, is Li Lu, No. 18 on the most wanted student leader
list. Lu, an ardent demonstator managed to flee to New York, where
he is presently working on a joint law and MBA degree at Columbia
University.

In addition to archival footage, Apted uses dramatized scenes
shot in nearby Taiwan, to portray moments from Li Lu’s life as a
child, a lover and student. Apted takes great care to use these
scenes and to set up the ensuing stories of ideals, defiance and
escape.

Stirred by the 1989 student uprising and ensuing slaughter by
the military, the documentary captured Apted and the producer,
Trudie Styler’s interest. Both engaged in the project because of
its intense theme.

One hurdle for the filmmakers involved secretly interviewing
some of the student leaders, who were closely followed by Chinese
police. This caused an elaborate plan which involved inviting many
student leaders to Western Christmas parties and ending up in a
backroom filled with film equipment, something they had to keep
hidden from the party and most guests.

Wang Dan, most wanted by the government, was one of the earliest
organizers of the movement, and now resides in Beijing. Wu’er
Kaixi, the second most wanted, appeared in front of more cameras
than probably anyone in the movement. After the military crackdown
of the student movement, Kaixi escaped to Hong Kong and is now
attending Dominican College in San Rafael, Calif.

Also listed are Chai Ling, No.4, an outspoken speaker who
inspired thousands, and who escaped to the U.S., also Wang Chaohua,
an older student leader who now attends UCLA.

Also interviewed are various Chinese "subversives", often jailed
for their views.

FILM: "Moving the Mountain" directed by Michael Apted. Now
showing at Melnitz Theater at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more
info and free required passes, call (310) 825-2345.

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