Bringing Martin Luther King to China (and back)

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Gandhi’s movement for non-violent social change challenged America. Can Martin Luther King, Jr. do the same for China?

Bringing King to China is a documentary film about culture, race and human rights. The film takes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of equality and peace to China—and then brings it back to the U.S. It’s the story of a young American teacher in Beijing, whose failed protests against the Iraq war inspire her to produce a play in Chinese about Martin Luther King, Jr. Her journey begins after worldwide demonstrations fail to stop the invasion of Iraq and she learns (mistakenly) that her father, an ABC journalist covering the war, has been killed by a suicide bomber.

Video Trailer


Bringing King to China documents a cross-cultural dialogue about the current relevance of Dr. King’s philosophy of peace and non-violence. The feature-length documentary conveys the lead character’s “dream to build a bridge between the societies by talking about peaceful struggle and universal rights” (The New York Times). It chronicles her twelve-month struggle to interpret and adapt King’s message for Chinese society, preserve the historical accuracy of the U.S. civil rights movement, clear bureaucratic hurdles before opening night and raise funds to pay the theater company. Powerful and intimate, the film takes American viewers backstage at the National Theatre of China, as Chinese actors rehearse with African-American gospel singers.

Bringing King to China marks the first time in the modern history of Chinese theater that Chinese and African-American actors have shared the same stage.

Chinese Flag at the Beijing Normal University
Bringing King to China is a vehicle for American audiences to examine Dr. King’s international impact and to access the changing beliefs of China’s future leaders. The film provides a unique lens for Americans to review the history of the U.S. civil rights movement and to wrestle with Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring call for global peace, one of his important—but lesser known—beliefs.

Bringing King to China could not be more timely. More than forty years after his assassination, Dr. King’s legacy as an advocate for economic justice and international peace is increasing. In China, Dr. King’s name is invoked by ethnic minorities in their struggle for recognition. In the U.S., the new King memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., designed by a Chinese sculptor, will be completed in 2011.

Following broadcast on television, the film will be shown at film festivals and distributed to schools, libraries, museums and community centers. To spark further dialogue, interactive study guides also will be developed.

After three years and more than 400 hours of filming in China, India and the United States, the project is now in post-production. The filmmakers are seeking completion funds and your support is needed. All donations are tax-deductible through the International Documentary Association.

To make a contribution, please visit donate page for more information.

Photo Gallery of the Play

Comment: An email was sent asking if this movie is publicly available and the  producer/director responded “We now have a 95-minute rough cut, so the film is 80% finished. We are seeking completion funds.”