VICTORY AND RESURGENCE (currently in production; to be completed in spring 2016)


 A restored section of the Yan'an wall, on the hill overlooking the Yan valley. Unrestored sections can be seen running towards the top left-hand corner.

A restored section of the Yan'an wall, on the hill overlooking the Yan valley. Unrestored sections can be seen running towards the top left-hand corner.

This film, for which most of the shooting is complete although it has not yet received financial backing, tells the story of a remote but fascinating city which rose to prominence when Mao Zedong and the Communist Party set up a new headquarters there in the late 1930s, and from which he led its takeover of Beijing and the entire country a decade later. There are few signs of the pre-war city, although fragments of the old city wall and one rebuilt section on the hill overlong the valley provide some idea of its dimensions. Beyond it unrestored bits are visible.

In fact, Yan’an was for centuries a forgotten backwater on the old road to Mongolia in northern Shaanxi, a naturally strong site within a basin protected by hills and watered by the River Yan, which flows eastwards into the Yellow River. 

 Mao's residence in Bao'an, where Edgar Snow met and interviewed him in 1936.

Mao's residence in Bao'an, where Edgar Snow met and interviewed him in 1936.

Then, on the 20th November 1938, a Japanese bombing raid brought an end to centuries of peace. The situation for the Communist Party changed with the end of the Long March. On October 22, 1935 Mao Zedong greeted the survivors at Bao’an, near Yan’an, now called Zhidan after the early Communist military commander and martyr Liu Zhidan, who was born there and whose role is remembered in this fine tomb and its museum. In Bao’an, the military commander Lin Biao set up an “Anti-Japanese University”in these caves. 

The catholic church, then the largest building in the city, where the CPC's 6th Plenary Session was held.

 The catholic church, then the largest building in the city, where the CPC's 6th Plenary Session was held.

The catholic church, then the largest building in the city, where the CPC's 6th Plenary Session was held.

Mao himself, who had formally become Chairman of the Yan’an Soviet, took up residence in this building a short walk away. It was at this time that the American journalist Edgar Snow travelled to meet Mao and his comrades in Bao’an and write the famous book Red Star Over China, which brought Mao to the attention of the world. Soon after this, Mao travelled to a new base in Yan’an in February 1936, and Yan’an became the headquarters of the Communist fight against both KMT and Fascism for the next eight years. It was from Yan’an that Mao plotted his bid for Beijing and the country. There are plenty of sites, buildings and stories to make this a fascinating film.

Zhang Xueliang' home in Xi'an where the lengthy negotiations took place during the "Incident"

 Zhang Xueliang' home in Xi'an where the lengthy negotiations took place during the "Incident"

Zhang Xueliang' home in Xi'an where the lengthy negotiations took place during the "Incident"

On 11 December 1936 a notorious event known as the Xi’an Incident took place at the Huaqing Hot Springs at a temple where Chang Kai-shek and his men had taken up residence and occupied adjacent meeting rooms to discuss anti-Communist and anti-Japanese campaigns with his local commanders, the hugely wealthy Zhang Xueliang and the more traditional warlord Yang Hucheng. Zhou Enlai joined the negotiations with huge success, and this event marked the beginning of an inexorable rise for Zhou and Mao together. Shortly after the Xi’an Incident, in January 1937, the Red Army entered Yan’an. It became the centre of Communism. In 1938 Mao delivered the famous lectures “On Protracted War”. Here in November 1938 he published his formulation of the strategic role of guerrilla warfare against Japan in an article entitled “Problems of War and Strategy”, based on his concluding speech at the 6th Plenary Session which was held in the city.

 

                       The Memorial Museum

                      The Memorial Museum

This film tells the story from the perspective of Yan’an and Mao, using archival footage from Italy, Japan and the USA together with shots of the Marco Polo Bridge incident, and much new film. It looks at the role of several prominent foreigners who stayed there for some time, such as the young English economist Michael Lindsay, the Canadian doctor Norman Bethune, the US-sponsored Dixie Mission which several years liaising with the Communist Party, and Patrick J. Hurley, the personal emissary of President Roosevelt.

Interviews include those with the curator of the Memorial Museum, and the scholar An Wei, a long-term researcher into Edgar Snow and this wife, and a friend of the family. Today, the city is pursuing the development plan of most Chinese cities, with the sounds of construction always present. It is linked with the high-speed railways network and a new airport is under construction.


I plane to embed a short version, minus the interviews, in the near future. it have a different title, such as The CRADLE OF MAOISM.