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Global Exchange Program 2016: The Lost Tribe

A short documentary produced in collaboration between one student from USC and one from the Communication University of China.


Directed by Ariel Sobel & Tao Mengdi
A thousand years ago, a group of Jewish merchants travelled down the silk road and settled in Kaifeng, the former capital of China. Today, the tale of their tribe is all but a distant memory.
But not to their descendant, Zhao, a Chinese countrywoman, who was robbed of her religion during the Cultural Revolution, when being Jewish became illegal in China. As she fights persecution by her local government, she seeks out the help of the Chabad of Beijing, whose Rabbi is convinced she is a hoax. Nominated for a Chinese Academy Award for Documentary Film, recognized by IndieFest for best Jewish and Female Filmmaker film, and an official selection of the San Diego Jewish film festival, THE LOST TRIBE challenges what it means to be a Jew in one’s heart and blood.
Ariel Sobel, a Jewish American senior from the University of Southern California’s prestigious film school teamed up with Tao Mengdi, a Chinese graduate student at the Communication of University China to create this film. Together, they shot in rural China under politically dangerous conditions and taught each other what it means to be Chinese, Jewish, and both at once.

This video is also available on the USCI YouTube Channel.

Other films from the program:
Directed by Kelley “Kali” Chatman & Coco Wu
Directed by Cloud Liu and Even Wu
Directed by Mischa Cantu and Ivy Lee


March 27, 2018 - 4:00pm
Los Angeles, California

Please join the U.S.-China Institute and PEN America for the West Coast launch of the PEN America report on social media in China, Forbidden Feeds. We will discuss the report and Chinese social media more generally. 

April 6, 2018 - 8:00am
Los Angeles, California

"Finding Solutions" will focus on the work of individuals, companies, and NGOs to address some of China’s pressing challenges. We hope you will join this important discussion on April 6.