Veverka Bros Productions LLC has completed the company’s first feature-length film, "China: The Rebirth of an Empire." The documentary examines the global implications of China’s unprecedented growth, which has placed it on the verge of overtaking the United States as the world’s preeminent power.
But what type of power will China become? Empire or democracy? In today’s interconnected and globalized world, the answer affects each and every one of us.
The film, produced by brothers Jesse and Jeremy Veverka, was shot on location in 10 different countries and territories throughout Asia, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nepal and the United States, and weaves together such diverse issues as free trade, Islamic fundamentalism, North Korea’s nuclear program and the Pro-Tibet movement under the umbrella of the national aspirations of an increasingly wealthy China.
The documentary is the first of its kind to reconcile American economic decline with China’s blistering growth, changing political climate and treatment of ethnic and religious minorities such as the Uyghurs and the Falun Gong.
Japan plays a prominent role in the film, both on and off screen. As director Jesse Veverka explains, “All the time people in Japan ask me what a film about China could possibly have to do with Japan, and in short I say ‘everything.’”
The film asks the taboo question: could a Chinese superpower eventually seek retribution against Japan for the horrors that Japan inflicted on China in the early 20th century?
According to Veverka, “Japan thinks its alliance with the U.S. will protect it, but in reality the most important factor may very well be nationalism – will Chinese youth-nationalism moderate itself, and will smoldering anti-China sentiment in Japan explode as China gains power?”
Veverka says he has high hopes that China won’t follow in Japan’s militaristic footsteps, but that its growth will have a big affect on the lives of every Japanese in the future, “whether that means working at a low-wage service job instead of a high-wage factory job, or learning to live with an impotent United States, or simply having foreign ‘cool’ being defined by Beijing rather than LA.”
In addition to Japan’s topical role in the film, the country also served as a production base for the film. “Since the film was mostly shot in Asia, we needed a regional hub for the film, but because it deals with some sensitive political topics, especially Rebiya Kadeer and the Falun Gong, we realized we couldn’t do everything we needed to do from China. Japan offers the right combination of location, political stability, and relatively free press for us at this time,” Veverka explains.
Exiled Uyghur spokeswoman, Rebiya Kadeer, labeled as a “separatist” by the Chinese government for her alleged role in inciting riots in the Xinjiang region, is an outspoken voice of criticism featured in the film. The Chinese government has gone to great lengths to censor media that mention Kadeer, such as boycotting last year’s premiere of the "Ten Conditions of Love," a documentary which features her, at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
More recently in January 2010, an article in the Hollywood Reporter named "China: The Rebirth of an Empire" as one of two films that resulted in China blocking access to the online movie database, IMDb, because the film lists Kadeer as a credit.
Despite this early reaction, Jesse Veverka says, “The film actually takes a more positive view on the future of China, because China seems to realize that its most powerful asset is not its military, but rather its economy.”
Other interviews include East Asia expert and author of the bestsellers "Blowback," "The Sorrows of Empire and Nemesis," Chalmers Johnson, exiled political dissident and former Chinese Communist Party member Wei Jingsheng, former Afghan prime minister Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, and Freddie Lim, pro-democracy activist and lead singer of the Taiwanese heavy metal band ChthoniC. The film is slated for release in the second half of 2010.
More information and the film’s trailer can be found online at www.chinarebirth.com.© Japan Today