Filmmakers Rae Chang and Adam Tow, invited to San Antonio by the East Asia Institute, attended a public screening of their documentary “Autumn Gem.”

The documentary depicts the challenges and events that surrounded the life of one of the least known feminists, Qiu Jin. “Despite being a very familiar figure in China, Qiu Jin is largely unknown outside the country” mentioned Adam Tow. 

Often considered a Chinese Joan of Arc, Qiu Jin became not only China’s first feminist activist, but an influential leader in the Chinese revolution.

In the early twentieth century, China faced occupation from the British Empire, Germany, Russia, France and Japan; on top of the foreign invasions, the country faced the upcoming fall of the Qing dynasty, putting an end to the dynastic China.

Chang and Tow’s documentary realistically depicts the circumstances that resulted in the uprising of this Chinese intellectual.

The documentary emphasizes on Qiu Jin’s domestic inconformity and her road to martyrdom. 

According to the directors, Qiu Jin was inspired by ancient Chinese legends such as Mulan, a Chinese woman who dressed as a man to enlist in the army. One of the cornerstones of the main character is the fight to regain national sovereignty, a task that was achieved late after her death in 1907.

The documentary is supported by ancient images that show the Chinese society in late nineteenth century. Chang graduated from the University of Berkeley with a B.A. in Anthropology while Tow graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Symbolic Systems; both of them have Chinese ancestry and produced the documentary by themselves with the sponsorship of the San Francisco Film Society. Both filmmakers are from the San Francisco Bay area and have several plans for the future, Tow spoke about a possible documentary in which he retraced his roots and his scattered aunts and uncles.

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