—Jimeson C. Goldner, PhD.
“I was deeply moved by the film, thank you so very much for sharing it to me, and for making this deeply touching work. I could feel her personal commitment to the subject and admire her art and craft. How often is an artist able to create so compelling a statement from her life? Weimin’s film is both heartbreaking and nostalgic. It speaks of our overwhelming lack of passion in the face of her own vision of a cherished time and place. This film is stunningly prophetic. It needs the widest possible exposure. Thank you again!”
Film Director Professor of Cinema, San Francisco State University
—Nancy Moss, PhD.
“Missing Home: The Last Days of Beijing Hutongs is a terrific documentary. Since 2005 I’ve wandered through the remainders of Beijing’s hutongs many times, enthralled by the urban gardens, sidewalk vendors, tasty snacks, lively inquiries, and rich streetside life. Weimin Zhang’s film brilliantly captures the vibrant culture and family life at the heart of the hutongs, along with the sad tale of family displacement, separation and grief, and architectural destruction. The filmmaker invites the audience to walk with her on a poignant journey into this vanishing world.”
Staff Consultant of San Francisco State University
“Missing Home is a marvelous film that captured fascinating stories of the disappearing Hutongs in China. The director was recording history. All of the photography and photos and interviews are remarkable. The story, the writing, the editing, the music, the directing, the sound, the research, the interviews, personal voice over, the translation, the cinematography, the heartfelt expressions and visual juxtapositions are all outstanding. Excellent production value.”
New York Times Bestselling Author Former Board Member of the Producers Guild of America
—George S. Semsel, PhD.
“Missing Home is the story of Beijing hutongs told through the close and personal experiences of a director raised in these disappearing neighborhoods. Through her unique perspectives she [Zhang Weimin] explores the effects of modernization on individual lives in urban China. Here is a film that would well serve as graphic illustration of Yi-Fu Tuan’s classic, Space and Place.
The strength of Missing Home lies within the range of people depicted: the couple who minded the public telephone, the ash collector, the family celebrating the New Year with a traditional meal. These are the people who move the film away from nostalgia for place into a broader consideration of the human condition. Through their stories, given with precise, telling cinematography, Zhang is able to keep the personal and the objective in a close, revealing relationship. It is in the finer details that each of us creates the space that we call home. Most telling is the young man collecting streets signs from hutongs now demolished. This is the central metaphor of Zhang’s film. How much has been lost, I ask, and what, if anything, has been gained? As a filmmaker myself, I found myself musing on how I would have filmed this scene, but my musings are of no consequence. I thought it somewhat underplayed, perhaps rightly so. No matter. When you look at this film, think well upon this passage.
The underlying irony that Zhang Weimin recognizes is the fervent desire of China, which has long and rightly celebrated its outstanding history, to show the world that it is now a modern, sophisticated nation. To celebrate its modernity, as represented by the Beijing Olympics, China destroys the very things, its people in their neighborhoods, that made the country the remarkable and unique place that it is. Missing Home is a film of quality. It deserve to be widely seen.”
American Film Scholar
Professor Emeritus School of Film, Ohio University
—Bill Nichols, PhD.
“It is of course very impressive and fully deserving of the recognition it has gained. I find the personal, nostalgic tone quite moving and found myself wondering more about the hutongs I have wandered as a tourist that are, as you say, a true home to many, a home slowly turning into “attractions” that preserve the past as the future tramples most of it into oblivion. The influx of new people, new skills and money, and the production of money from the land, not via agriculture but via real estate transaction, does not seem sensitive to the history you celebrate or to the contributions of the hutong dwellers, many of whom are elderly, disposable to a hungry economy like the hutongs themselves, are you subtly hint at the loss of humanity in all of this. The scenes of personal/community interaction, of meals and rituals and “water fights” that are inclusive, that draw one to another, that forge a community instead of the atomization that has characterized the worst of cities since the mid 19th century, work quite well to suggest what is being lost, ironically, to the extent that communism, communalism, still has any meaning at all apart from top down control. The voice over, the observed moments, the interactions of you and others blend three different modes and place a challenge on the film to marry these modes effectively lest the voice over dominate as information, or confession; the observation dominate as a present without history or the interactions dominate as encounters that stress what others say more than what they do but I think you do a good job of creating a single tone throughout.”
American Film Critic and Theoretician
Founder of the Contemporary Study of Documentary Film
Professor of Cinema, San Francisco State University