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Chinese and American Students Document the Global City, 2006

Students from the Communication University of China and the University of Southern California combine to produce documentaries on Los Angeles. This summer 2006 project launched an ongoing collaboration between the two universities.

April 10, 2006
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Please click on the links below to see the short documentaries produced by students participating in this collaboration.

"Goals" by Shu Chaoi and Cesara Wright

"Melt Me Los Angeles" by Tao Zhang and Krishnan Unnikrishnan

"The Elephant in the Pink Tutu" by Tom Xia and Liam Zheng

"The Global Mix Los Angeles" by Qui Xiaolu and Ryan Chen

"Unsung Hero" by BT Jackson and Yuan Ye

"We Believe" by John Harrison and Sha-Sha Wang

A seventh film focuses on the process of producing these documentaries:

"There's Always Time For Soup" by Chera Kee and Fei-Fei Wang

Adapted from a report by Marsha Kinder, Critical Studies

In summer 2006, six cinema students and two faculty members from the Communication University of China in Beijing came to USC for a 5-week interdisciplinary summer seminar, titled “Documenting the Global City: Los Angeles and Beijing.” The pilot seminar was taught by Mark Jonathan Harris, a three-time Oscar-winner for best documentary film and a professor in the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The workshop focused on two activities:

a) Interdisciplinary presentations by USC professors--including Michael Dear (Geography), Stanley Rosen (East Asian Studies), Meiling Cheng (Theater), Marsha Kinder (Critical Studies) on urban change and its representation in visual culture.

b) Each visiting Chinese student was paired with a USC student, and together each pair made a 10 -15 minute bilingual digital documentary on Los Angeles as a global city. The topic was chosen by the Chinese visitor, but each pair had to engage in considerable negotiations. Two additional American students documented the collaborative process.
The resulting seven films have been screened at both universities and broadcast on television.

The aims of the project are:
1) To create a productive dialogue between the two cultures and to enlarge the global perspective of all participants.

2) To enable both groups of students and faculty to directly experience the other culture and to learn how it defines globalism in general, how it sees its own city in global terms, how it combines theory and practice, and how it processes new perceptions.

3) To encourage and enable students and faculty to make lasting relationships with their counterparts from another culture.

4) To assess the impact that this exchange had on its participants.

5) To transmit the value of this exchange to a larger audience beyond the groups of original participants.

6) To create a successful pilot for a series of future exchanges between other cities and universities from the US and Asia.

Why we chose Beijing and Los Angeles for the pilot:

1) They are both important global cities that continue to undergo tremendous growth.

2) Beijing will be hosting the 2008 summer Olympics, and Los Angeles has previously hosted two Olympics in 1932 and 1984. The hosting of this global event greatly accelerated the process of urban change in both cities.

3) They are home cities for two of the leading film and television schools in the world, which recently celebrated their 75th (USC) and 50th (CUC) Anniversaries.

4) They are the primary sites of cultural production for their respective nations.

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UPDATE: Partial funding for the program has been provided by generous gifts from Stephen Lesser and by grants from the USC U.S.-China Institute.  Click here for an article about the 2006 group which worked in Los Angeles.
Click here for an article about the 2007 group which worked in Beijing.


Click here to view the projects from other years: 
2006 | 2008 | 2009 | 2011 | 2014 | 2016

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