Mahjong & Chicken Feet

Mahjong & Chicken Feet

Release date:

2008

Running time:

47 minutes

Formats:

Available on DVD

Closed Captioned:

No

Availability in North America:

Available in CanadaAvailable in the US

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  • Audience level:
  • Elementary School
  • Middle School
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  • General

A group of men in a variety store in Harbin, China candidly discuss a foreigner with a camera amongst them, assuming she doesn't understand Chinese and forgetting that her camera is recording. Later in Kaifeng, miles to the south, the woman noses her camera into people's homes, searching for traces of the city's 1,000-year-old Jewish settlement, while her guide attempts to render her questions polite in translation.

The woman is Jacqueline Levitin, filmmaker and professor in Film and Women's Studies at Simon Fraser University. Her parents and grandparents emigrated to America from Harbin, Manchuria, and she returned to China to seek out traces of her family's past. Out of reach of the Tsar's pogroms, the vibrant Russian Jewish community they were a part of thrived in Manchuria. A cultured, European-leaning community, these 20th century Jews were unaware of another Chinese Jewish community that long preceded them-the 1,000-year-old community of Kaifeng in the heart of ancient imperial China.

"The spontaneity of Levitin's camerawork draws the viewer headlong into the world of the film, revealing the mindset of a people normally inscrutable to westerners. Mahjong & Chicken Feet leaves one feeling one has truly been somewhere, seeing and hearing remarkable human stories."
     -Caroline Leaf, Academy Award nominated filmmaker

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