Thursday, January 27, 2011

2011 NOMINATED SHORT: The Warriors Of Qiugang

In the lead up to the 83rd Academy Awards on February 27th, we are taking a closer look at this year's nominees, all of which will be available to download from iTunes on February 22nd. Today, one of this year's Best Documentary Short Subject nominees, The Warriors Of Qiugang.

Best Documentary Short Subject nominee, The Warriors Of Qiugang

Director: Ruby Yang
Writer: Thomas Lennon

Producers: Thomas Lennon & Ruby Yang

Villagers in a remote district of central China take on a chemical company that is poisoning their water and air. For five years they fight to transform their environment and as they do, they find themselves transformed as well.

Director’s Biography:
Ruby Yang is a noted Chinese-American filmmaker whose work in documentary and dramatic film has earned her numerous international awards, including an Academy Award (two nominations). She lives and works in Beijing.

In 2003, along with producer Thomas Lennon, Yang founded the Chang Ai Media Project to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in China. Since then, its documentaries and public service announcements have been seen more than 900 million times. The Blood of Yingzhou District, which Yang directed as part of the project, won the 2006 Academy Award for Documentary Short. The project’s second documentary short, Tongzhi in Love, was released in June 2008. In August 2010, Yang and Lennon completed the project’s third documentary short, The Warriors of Qiugang.

She is currently developing several feature film projects with young Chinese scriptwriters.

Writer’s Biography:
Thomas Lennon’s work in documentary film has won the field’s most coveted honors: an Academy Award (three nominations), two duPont-Columbia and George Foster Peabody awards and two national Emmys. He has twice premiered films at Sundance.

He founded, with Ruby Yang, the China AIDS Media Project; their groundbreaking AIDS awareness messages have been seen over 900 million times on Chinese television and the Internet, probably the largest campaigns in the history of the disease. This work earned them profiles in the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times and on PBS. Their long-time collaboration produced a trilogy of films set in China, the most recent of which, The Warriors of Qiugang, was nominated for a 2010 Oscar. The Blood of Yingzhou District, the first of the trilogy, won an Oscar in 2007.

In 2003, Lennon was series producer and lead writer of Becoming American, a six-hour PBS series with Bill Moyers that traced Chinese immigration from the early 19th century to the present-day. “A model documentary that gets almost everything right,” wrote the New York Times. The series won four Emmy nominations.

More than ten million viewers – double the PBS prime-time average – tuned in to the 1998 premiere of Lennon’s The Irish in America: Long Journey Home. “The filmmaker is a consummate storyteller,” wrote The Boston Globe; the work “looks and sounds like a labor of love,” said The New York Times. Rated among the year’s ten best by TV Guide, the series earned, again, four Emmy nominations, and its companion CD won the Grammy for best folk album of the year.

Lennon’s The Battle over Citizen Kane (1996) was featured at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals among many others – “a two-hour tornado of a documentary,” according to Time Magazine. After the film’s nomination for an Oscar, Ridley Scott’s production company adapted it as an HBO dramatic film, starring John Malkovich and Liev Schreiber.

Battle of the Bulge, co-written with Mark Zwonitzer, won the Peabody and duPont-Columbia awards for 1995. “Unforgettable,” the Chicago Tribune wrote, “as great and as moving a documentary as television has ever produced.”

Lennon’s other films include his acclaimed collaborations with writer Shelby Steele, Seven Days in Bensonhurst (1990) and Jefferson’s Blood (2000), as well as The Choice (1992) and Tabloid Truth (1994), both written with Richard Ben Cramer. Before setting up his own production company in 1987, Lennon worked for almost a decade in the Close-up Division of ABC News, with assignments in the Soviet Union, South America and the Middle East. He is a magna cum laude graduate of Yale University.

Nominated for 83rd Academy Awards Documentary Short Subject

2011 Ashland Independent Film Festival; 2011 Hong Kong International Film Festival