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Uncensored stories from and about China

Uncensored stories from and about China

Photographer:Fotograaf: Tickets to china, Secret Stories also give excess to the exhibition of Cai Guo-Qiang in the Bonnefanten Museum. Source: YouTube

Visitors of the story festival China, Secret Stories, organised by Story-Line Maastricht in the Bonnefanten museum on Sunday 22 January, will receive a red envelope. The Chinese give these to family and friends at New Year and they usually contain money and some good advice. The visitors to the festival won't find that inside the envelope, but what they will find is a card upon which they can write a question.

It is one of the ways in which iArts alumna and creative producer Leana Bekker wants to start and finish the afternoon. “When you ask a large group of people if they have any questions, it remains quiet. This way, people can write down their questions during the lecture. We will collect all the envelops at the end and the speakers will answer the questions.”

During China, Secret Stories, various people will tell stories about China. One of them is writer Lijia Zhang, who has come from Beijing especially for this event to talk about her first novel Lotus. Another is film maker Alice Wong, who made a documentary about the violent death of her father. Journalist Hans Moleman will show how Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke deals with censorship.

But the story that comes closest for Bekker is The Lost Son by Sigrid Deters. The documentary tells the story of Gouming Martens, an adopted child who goes in search of his biological parents. “He used to live across the road from me. He doesn't know where he is from, the official documents are vague. Until recently, he didn't even know exactly how old he was. His first clue is a short film made of him when he arrived in the Netherlands, in which he speaks Chinese. With the help of experts, he tried to find out in what part of China they speak like that.” When visitors enter, they can see stills from the documentary on specially designed stands. “This way, I wanted to create the atmosphere and tease the visitor.”

China, Secret Stories is part of the (Un)seen Worlds series by Story-Line, in which stories are shared about countries that have censorship and where the freedom of speech is limited. Founder Petra Quaedvlieg got the idea when she lived in Shanghai, which has an annual international literature festival. She sees storytelling in a broader sense than just literature. “Of course, books play an important role. But film and documentary makers also tell a story, just like journalists and photographers.”

There is a mini Storyline at the Innbetween on 17 March. The theme that evening will be Syria and the speakers will be journalists Samar Yazbek and Petra Stienen.

China, Secret Stories, Sunday 22 January, 14:00-16.30hrs, Bonnefanten museum, tickets: 15 euro (students 8 euro), including entry into the exhibition Cai Guo-Qiang: My Stories of Painting’, Reservations: info@story-line.org For more information: facebook.com/StoryLineMaastricht

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