Dispatch from China

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From NWFF Managing Director Susie Purves:

True to what they say about my host country and the internet, I’m havng a hard time postng a blog to Hot Splce. And I also have a sticky I on this keyboard. If you want to post this for me, I will appreciate it. I hope everythng is going well at the old Film Forum.

It has been a surreal couple of days here in Shenzhen at the international cultural trade show. The actual name is so complicated when translated into English that I forget it over and over again and will have to look it up tomorrow to get it straight. Northwest Film Forum was invited to participate in this show through Seattle guan shee and I am, on short notice, thrilled to be in China for the first time, as a VIP no less.

The show began yesterday morning after a 6AM wakeup call. Honoring our host’s request for coats and ties and dresses and high heels, we assembled in a convention hall about six times the size of the Kingdome (for those of you who remember the Kingdome). High officials from the central government were going to make the rounds of the hall at 9:30 and we needed to have our booths set up and to be in place with beaming foreign faces and clapping hands at the proper moment. The humor lies right there. There was little other purpose for our being present other than that one critical moment. I arrived to find the booth consisted of a 12inch x 24inch table a plastic chair and a sign that proclaimed Northwest Fiamiam Forum. I set out the 50 Children’s Film Festival programs, 20 spring and fall calendars, business cards and anniversary books that I brought.

Insignificance was no overstatement for our little Seattle contingent. We were puny amongst fur, antler and satin clad ethnic dancers hoofing it to a disco beat on an acrylic stage lit from beneath, or blaring anime battle games played out in real time by real costumed teenagers in unison with high-tech rear projection and a disco beat. Across from us, the tourist board of Egypt had a columned stage upon which a guy dressed like King Tut posed for photos and then broke into a snappy ancient Egyptian dance, to a disco beat.

Our Egyptian friend turned out to be such an attraction that we didn’t need to worry about pulling in a crowd. Hundreds pushed through our booths to take a gander at Tut and in the process pawed through our offerings in less than half a day. By myself, I supplied enough exoticism to go through scores of two handed business card trade-offs with people who had absolutely no interest in Northwest Film Forum, or film, or Seattle, or anything outside of picking up a card that wasn’t printed in Chinese.

Wandering around, we stopped in the booth of some traditional paper cutters and in the process of purchasing some snappy and snippy portraits of revolutionary heros, attracted a couple of TV crews. I was on the Shenzhen news several times last night declaring the exhibition to be beyond my wildest dreams. And without thinking too deeply about the content of my wildest dreams, I’ll have to say I was speaking the truth. More stories later. Pictures too, maybe.

Your China correspondent,
Susie Purves

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