One of the best ways to understand a culture is through the films it produces. The Walker's ongoing film series is the motherlode of Chinese political culture.
If you want to understand the cultural forces shaping China over the past 60 years, "The People's Republic of China: 60 Years of China on Film" will do the trick. Marked with the imprint of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution and its aftermath, the films are a fascinating look at Chinese ideas and propaganda. The series runs through Nov. 22.
Tonight, the University of Minnesota screens "Red Detachment of Women," a film based on a true story of female Communist fighters in 1931. On Sunday, the Walker screened another version of the story--a ballet that is best known for being watched by President Nixon on his trip to China in 1972.
From 1966 to 1970--the height of Mao's Cultural Revolution--film production stopped, explained Jason McGrath, an Asian languages and cultures expert from the University of Minnesota. The Red Detachment of Women was one of eight model plays that were the only dramas allowed during the revolution.
The film is also extremely rare -- only a handful of copies exist in the world. If you've ever wanted an inside view on the history and politics of China, this series is well worth a stop. Click here to see the full schedule.