Reel NW/Man Zou: Beijing to Shanghai
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About the Film
“Man Zou” is a common phrase in Mandarin that translates literally to “Walk Slow.” Used as a farewell, it is a way of reminding one another to be careful and mindful on our journey, and take the time to see things along the way. Walk slowly and you won’t fall.
"Man Zou: Beijing to Shanghai" is the story of four American friends and their Chinese guide as they set out on a mission to bicycle more than 1,000 miles between China’s two largest cities.
Documenting their journey with only the camera gear and clothing packed on their bikes, Team Man Zou explores the world’s most populous nation without the aid of support vehicles from a vantage point just a few feet off the ground. By embodying the Man Zou philosophy and taking the time to learn from those they encounter along the way, the filmmakers discover an authentic side of China and its people that tourists rarely get to experience.
Shot in breathtaking High Definition, "Man Zou: Beijing to Shanghai" captures an intimate and unfiltered look at China, its people and their culture. Director Jason Reid presents an insightful portrait of China, juxtaposing its modern urban cities with breathtaking rural countryside.
Exclusive interviews with noted environmental leader Ma Jun (named one of the “100 most influential persons in the world” by Time magazine in May 2006) and China urbanization specialist Kam Wing Chan provide expert commentary on how these issues affecting China also affect the rest of the world.
The film evolves from an adventure about bicycling in China to become a broader examination of the economic, social and environmental issues facing this dynamic nation. Among the topics addressed are the population’s urban/rural divide, the environmental impact of China’s rapid growth and the relationship between China and the United States.
Three weeks after the 2008 Olympics, myself and three other Americans traveled to China for the first time. We went with the goal of bicycling 1,000 miles between Beijing and Shanghai and making a documentary about the experience.
In choosing the bicycle as our mode of transportation and going without the assistance of support vehicles, we were able to travel to areas that foreigners rarely see, giving us a more intimate look at the people of China, their culture, and the rapidly changing environment in which they live.
By adopting the philosophy of “Man Zou,” which translates to “Walk Slow” in Mandarin, I think we were able to provide a valuable snapshot of China during this important historical time and capture a glimpse into a country that is too often misunderstood by Westerners. In the end, we hope our film sparks more conversation about China, how we relate to the people, and ultimately help us better understand the complexities of their country.
The Reel NW Connection
Reel NW focuses on the very best of independent film from the Northwest. Every week, Reel NW airs intriguing films from, or about, our own community. Jason Reid is a Seattle native. He directed the Webby Award-winning documentary "Sonicsgate: Requiem For A Team" (2009) which exposed the shocking truth behind the demise of the Seattle SuperSonics.