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China Daily Global / 2020-12 / 22 / Page003

Award-winning film explores essence of kung fu

By LI WENRUI | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-12-22 00:00

Kung fu, a quintessential part of Chinese cultural heritage, continues to hold strong charismatic appeal worldwide-with an award-winning documentary now offering a fresh perspective on understanding some of the concepts that are profoundly Chinese, yet surprisingly universal.

The documentary film, Searching for Kung Fu, produced by the China Daily Website, discusses the core aspects of kung fu by following the historical footsteps of its masters. Directed by acclaimed US filmmaker Laurence Brahm, the Searching for Kung Fu production comprises one documentary and two short-video series: Searching for Kung Fu-Thirty-Six Strategies and Searching for Kung Fu-12 Traditional Chinese Values.

"I hope to share with global audiences the values learned across four decades in China. Kung fu is a mirror of Chinese culture," Brahm said.

"Everything from traditional medicine, calligraphy and tea can be understood by looking through the kung fu looking glass."

Mainly featuring on-location scenes, Searching for Kung Fu allows viewers to embark on a kung fu pilgrimage, traveling to cities in China and the United States, including Shaolin Temple-the birthplace of Shaolin kung fu, Chenjiagou village-the birthplace of Chen-style tai chi, and Jingwu town-the hometown of kung fu legend Huo Yuanjia (1868-1910).

The documentary offers an insider's view of a unique cultural heritage that has grown into a nonverbal, universal language and delves into its underlying philosophies, adding a new dimension to contemporary cross-cultural dialogues.

"In some ways kung fu is a common language that can bring people together. Everyone loves a great kung fu movie. This is a time on our planet of great social divisiveness. We need to find common cultural values that can bring us back together. This is where Searching for Kung Fu comes in."

Brahm has devoted himself to kung fu practice for more than 40 years. In Searching for Kung Fu, Brahm acts as the truth-seeker who interviews a roster of Chinese and foreign kung fu masters. He looks into the close relations of kung fu with Chinese philosophies and its influences upon martial arts in other countries, as well as its value and significance for today's world.

"We are witnessing decoupling of trade, business, finance, economic and even political-social systems across the world today, rolling back decades of globalization. When everything breaks down, culture is that last medium of exchange," he said.

"Maybe Searching for Kung Fu can serve as a bridge in deepening real people-to-people communication to restart a fresh, more positive era of China-US relations. Certainly there are so many Americans like myself who love the martial arts as a way of improving body-mind-spirit. In the end, we are all searching for kung fu together."

The full-length documentary won the Best Documentary Film Producer award at the 5th Canada Golden Maple International Film Festival. Brahm clinched the Documentary Film Director Achievement award.

The film festival, held every September in Vancouver, screens shortlisted films throughout major cities' movie theaters. It also holds film forums and other activities for movie fans and professionals to promote, inspire, interact and exchange at an academic level.

A total of 585 films from various countries and regions participated in this year's event, with Searching for Kung Fu and 34 other films winning awards.

The documentary was shown in Beijing on Dec 19. The public screening, co-hosted by the China Daily Website and CHAO Art Center in Sanlitun, included a meet-and-greet with the creative team.


Laurence Brahm, director of documentary Searching for Kung Fu, interacts with Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do master Johnson Phan during filming. The poster of the documentary film. CHINA DAILY



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