Known for centuries as the center of Chinese culture and aesthetics, this Yangzi delta city has often been called the “Venice of the East” because of its many canals and bridges. This beautifully filmed portrait of the city leads the viewer through markets and teahouses, sweet shops and bookstores, rice paddies and fish stalls, and two of Suzhou’s exquisite gardens.
The film — from the classic three-part “Cities in China Series” — explores the process of silk cultivation, long a Suzhou specialty, and shows the preparation of a regional meal in a simple home kitchen. Two elegant young women sing in a garden, evoking the celebrated days of the literati gathering. An expressive storyteller recounts a traditional epic, enhancing his tale with the sound effect of drum rolls and charging horses.
The film concludes with visits to two of Suzhou’s famed gardens: the Net Master’s Garden and the Garden of the Humble Politician. Whether sensed in these fabled gardens, or evoked in the banter of elderly gentlemen taking tea together, a persistent devotion to basic moral values in shown to be intrinsic to Suzhou life.
"Perhaps the finest, certainly the most artistic documentary available on a Chinese city." — Choice
"Catches the mood of this city so famed as a center of Chinese cultural refinement. The film spares us the usual spate of statistics and chin-stroking wrap-ups of current Chinese political history… and gives us a complete rest stop where we may savor the flavor of a China that is new, yet very old, where continuity has not been broken. This is a mot handsome program, with soft narration that is of a piece with the video. One wishes it had lasted for twice the time." — Richard F. Shepard, The New York Times
"This is not only an exquisitely beautiful film about the ´Venice´ of China, but a subtle commentary on the continuity in the Chinese way of life. With simplicity and the artist´s eye for relevant detail, the film explores the canals and waterways along the Yangzi and the civilization that has developed there. The planting of rice, the harvesting and drying of tea leaves, the cultivation of silkworms, the artistic design of the stone bridges and intricate wood lattice work are presented with extraordinary poetic feeling." — Judy Stone, San Francisco Chronicle
American Film and Video Festival Award
San Francisco Intl. Film Festival honoree
Margaret Mead Film Festival honoree
Smithsonian Institution honoree
Asia Society honoree
PBS National Broadcasts
Selected for screening at more than a dozen film festivals worldwide
Music by Liang Mingyue. @Guest Flutist: Paul Horn.