Regular attendees as well as first timers grabbed a taco plate from the SoHo taco truck, a complimentary blanket and some fresh hot coffee as they settled in the outside venue of the Orange County Museum of Art to watch the screening of The Chinese Mayor. It was a full house that night of July 10th, partially due the Museum’s new exhibition My Generation: Young Chinese Artists, which featured a broad look into the new generation of artists emerging in mainland China since 2000.
The Chinese Mayor, directed by Hao Zhou, followed two years of Mayor Geng Yanbo as he constructed an exhaustive plan to demolish a goal of 140,000 households in order to kickstart the city of Datong into becoming a place of tourism and culture. Naturally, when you demolish homes, you leave people homeless. The relocation of over half a million people creates confrontations from the public and emotions run high as Geng tries to communicate his plan to shape the city’s future.
The award winning documentary was followed by a Q&A session with Dorothy Solinger, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, who specializes in Chinese domestic politics, political sociology, political economy, East Asian politics, and comparative politics. She describes Geng’s leadership quality as authoritarian and names her favorite quote of his as, “If you cannot do your job, then resign.” The film opens on a scene with children, she continues, which may allude to the future.
As a final thought to the night, student Rae Holcomd comments that the night was “a lovely setting to explore new cultures and raise questions about cross cultural modern issues.”
Image: Professor Dorothy Solinger answers questions from the audience at the end of the screening, July 10, 2015