China Beat Archive


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2011 Dec 5 in The China Beat


Copyright 2011 Peter Zarrow.


I would like to alert China Beat readers to a new film, Datong: The Great Society [Chinese title: 大同:康有為在瑞典]. This docu-drama tells the story of Kang Youwei (1858-1927) and to a great extent that of his second daughter Kang Tongbi (aka Kang Tung Pih, 1887-1969).

I found the film a powerful and affecting evocation of a philosopher’s life, and found myself challenged to consider what we make of the past and what it makes of us. The film-maker, Evans Chan, calls Datong: The Great Society a “docu-drama,” since it is based on verifiable records, period photos, and vintage footage—as well as interviews with scholars—all woven into a tapestry of theatricalization involving dance and re-enacted scenes by the Hong Kong actors Liu Kai Chi (as Kang) and Lindzay Chan (as Tongbi). The film also features the well-known and very-much-living actress/choreographer Chiang Ching as the narrator who “plays” herself (more on which below).