A documentary on the life of pioneering social scientist Lucie Cheng, produced by CommonWealth Magazine Group Chairwoman Diane Ying, has won the award for best documentary at the Ministry of Culture’s 2012 Golden Harvest Awards for Outstanding Short Films.
The work, titled "Linking Our Lives," was Ying's first-ever documentary. She said that she hopes the film on her good friend's life will inspire and encourage young people to learn from Cheng's spirit in exploring life's meaning and purpose.
"I decided to produce the film to highlight the most important linkage among humans: love and friendship," Ying said.
Cheng, a Hong Kong-born, Taiwan-educated sociology scholar who made her fame in the United States by helping position the field of Asian American Studies within a trans-Pacific context, died on Jan. 27, 2010 at National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei at the age of 70.
The title of Ying's documentary was taken from Lucie Cheng's path-breaking publication on Chinese-American women in 1984, "Linking Our Lives," which was released during her tenure as director of the Asian American Studies Center at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA).
In producing the film, Ying said she intended to convey the spirit advocated by Cheng that everyone has unique strength and should explore the depths of such potential during their lifetime.
Ying said Cheng accomplished many things during her life but said little about her achievements.
"Few Taiwanese people know what she did in the U.S. and few Americans know her life and work in Taiwan. And that's why I want to produce a documentary to commemorate her, one of my best friends," Ying explained.
Ying personally scripted and directed the documentary, and CommonWealth Magazine organized a special team to shoot the film in the U.S.
The production crew documented every place where Cheng had lived and worked and interviewed many of her friends and colleagues to explore her vision of the world.
The documentary also featured nearly 1,000 photos and oral history interviews to introduce Cheng's rich life and work.
UCLA said in an obituary that Cheng left an enormous legacy, including playing an indispensable role in building research and other meaningful relationships within the Asia-Pacific region, most notably between the U.S. and China. Cheng returned to Taiwan in the mid-1990s and officially retired from UCLA in 2001. The school held a memorial and flew its flag at half mast in honor of Cheng following her death.
Cheng, the youngest daughter of the late famous journalist Cheng She-wo, served as founding dean of the Graduate School for Social Transformation Studies at Shih Hsin University, which was founded by her father in 1956, and worked as a publisher and journalist for two newspapers － Lipao and Pots Weekly － following her return to Taiwan.
In other related news, a documentary on the Jan. 27, 1949 sinking of the Taiping Steamer, known locally as the "Chinese Titanic," premiered at Eslite Bookstore's Xinyi store on March 31.
The documentary explores the tragedy of the Taiping disaster that killed more than 1,000 refugees who were fleeing their war-torn hometowns on the mainland at the end of the Chinese Civil War. The steamer was bound for Keelung in northern Taiwan from Shanghai when it sank off the Zhoushan Islands in the Taiwan Strait. Fewer than 50 passengers survived.
Vice President-elect Wu Den-yih said at the premier that the film was a tribute to the victims of the shipwreck and a recognition of the natural goodness of humanity shown in the incident.
The documentary on the Taiping shipwreck was produced by Skyeye Film Production Co. of the Want Want China Times Media Group. It was the third episode of a trilogy on migration across the Taiwan Strait over the past century.
Skyeye General Manager Ting Wen-ching said at the premier that the production crew interviewed survivors and families of the shipwreck's victims.
"We have produced the film in hopes of filling the blank about that unwritten history," Ting said, adding that she hoped there would never again be a military confrontation across the narrow strait.