Saturday, November 19, 2016 - 2:00pm - 5:15pm
Pollock Theater, UCSB

Investigating My Father (2016)

Screening format: Digital Projection (80 minutes) 

Director: Wu Wenguang

This event is free but a reservation is recommended to guarantee a seat

Pioneering Chinese documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang presents Investigating My Father (2016), a film twenty years in the making that explores his father’s story of transformation from landowner’s son and man of the ‘old society’ to the post-1949 ‘new society,’ a history he spoke about with his son for the first time for this film. 

Following the screening of Investigating My Father, Wu Wenguang will be joined by fellow members of the filmmaking collective The Memory Project: Zhang Mengqi, Liu Xiaolei, and Zhang Ping.  They will present “Reading Hunger,” an account of the process by which each filmmaker returned to his or her own village to interview elders and document their memories of the Great Famine in China. A discussion and Q&A with the filmmakers will be led by Michael Berry, Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. 

In 2010, Wenguang founded The Memory Project to support amateur filmmakers working in rural China to collect oral histories from the survivors of the Great Famine (1958–1961). Over the past six years, the filmmaking collective and their body of work have grown to include over a thousand interviews about the Great Famine, as well as the Great Leap Forward (1958–1960), the Land Reform and Collectivization period (1949–1953), the Four Cleanups Movement (1964), and the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). 

A digital archive of The Memory Project’s work is held at Duke University Libraries. For more details and to explore the The Memory Project, please see


Wu Wenguang was born in southwestern China’s Yunnan province in 1956. After graduating from high school in 1974, Wu was sent to the countryside, where he worked as farmer for four years. Between 1978 and 1982, he studied Chinese Literature in Yunnan University. Following his time at the University, Wu worked as a teacher at a junior high school for three years, and later worked in television as a journalist for four years. Wu left television and moved to Beijing in 1988 to be an independent documentary filmmaker, freelance writer, and a dance and theater producer. Wu’s documentary work includes Bumming in Beijing (1990), 1966, My Time in the Red Guards (1993), Jiang Hu: Life on the Road (1999), Fuck Cinema (2005), and Treating (2010). In 2005, Wu co-founded the independent art space Caochangdi Workstation with Wen Hui in Beijing. Since then, Wu has focused on two main projects: Village Documentary Project (founded in 2005) and Folk Memory Project (founded in 2010).

Zhang Mengqi was born in 1987. She graduated from the Dance Academy of China Minorities University in 2008. Since 2009, she has been a resident artist at CCD Workstation. She has directed a number of documentary films in a “self portrait” series: Self Portrait with Three Women (2010), Self Portrait: At 47 KM (2011), Self Portrait: Dancing at 47 KM (2012), Self Portrait: Dreaming at 47 KM (2013), Self Portrait: Bridging at 47 KM (2014), and Self Portrait: Dying at 47 KM (2015).


Liu Xiaolei was born in 1984 in Dalian and graduated from Liaoning University with a degree in TV editing and directing. He worked at DDATV for one year, established and ran a culture and media company for three years, and later worked in producing advertising, documentaries, and feature films as a freelancer. He participated in The Memory Project in 2014 and completed the documentary A True Believer in 2015.



Zhang Ping was born in Hunan in 1977. She is a writer, painter, and filmmaker, and she participated in The Memory Project in 2013. Her first documentary is No Land (2015).




Michael Berry is Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. He is the author of Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese FilmmakersA History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and FilmJia Zhangke’s Hometown Trilogy and Boiling the Sea: Hou Hsiao Hsien’s Memories of Shadows and Light. Berry is the translator of several novels and co-editor of Modernism Revisited (Rye Field, 2015) and Divided Lenses (Hawaii, 2016).

This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center and the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center's Community Matters series.