The early years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War produced a new consensus among western elites that it was now a good thing to do business with China and develop cultural relations.
A fascinating film from 1990 illustrates this moment of history, Bethune: The Making of A Hero, starring Donald Sutherland as Norman Bethune, the real life Canadian communist doctor who died in China in 1939 providing medical aid to Mao’s 8th Army as it battled the invading Japanese. Bethune was a swash-buckling humanitarian who became a revered figure of the Chinese Revolution, and later a sanctified Canadian national hero, too.
This 18-million dollar movie was a co-production of Canadian and Chinese state partners, and was at the time the most expensive Canadian film ever produced. An ambitious but flawed film, the production was marred by a power struggle between the Canadians involved in the project, the film’s star, actor Donald Sutherland and its screenwriter, Ted Allan. I’ve recently written about Bethune: The Making of a Hero in a piece for Passage magazine titled “After the Cold War, China and Canada United to Honour Norman Bethune." https://readpassage.com/after-the-cold-war-china-and-canada-united-to-honour-norman-bethune/
Joining Sweater Weather to talk about Bethune: The Making of a Hero is Paul Jay, journalist, filmmaker, founder and host of theAnalysis.news, a video and audio current affairs show. He is past chair of the Documentary Organization of Canada, as well as a founding chair of the Hot Docs! Canadian International Documentary Festival. Paul is also the nephew of Ted Allan, the screenwriter of Bethune, and he offers a unique perspective on the film, as well as its political, economic and historical background.
Sweater Weather is a podcast about Canadian arts & culture, co-hosted by Aaron Giovannone & Naomi K. Lewis. You can find the show on all major video, audio & social media platforms.
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