Chinese Oscar-winner happy despite lack of audience

Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:52am EDT
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By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Oscar-winning filmmaker Ruby Yang knows her documentary on AIDS will probably never be widely shown in China, the country in which it was made and where she now calls home, but she's fine with that.

Yang and partner Thomas Lennon won the Oscar in 2007 for "The Blood of Yingzhou District," which tells the story of traditional Chinese family obligations colliding with the fear of AIDS in impoverished Anhui province, and the fate of those left behind.

Yet it has never been officially released in China nor shown on state television, and probably never will be, due in part to its sensitive subject matter.

But Yang says just being able to raise awareness about AIDS in China amongst policy-makers and health professionals has been enough of a reward.

"I think, in a way, the film has been seen by a lot of the Health Ministry people and they use it for training. So I think that's really reached our goal," the softly spoken Yang told Reuters this week in an interview.

"Just last December, someone sent me a link which said Premier Wen Jiabao went into the same house in which we filmed three orphans," said Yang, speaking on the sidelines of an event organized by New York's Barnard College.

"It made me and my colleagues so happy, because really it reached the goal. We couldn't have imagined that that would have happened four or five years ago when we first started."

The government has promised to hand out free, Chinese-made drugs to anyone infected with the disease and the country's leaders have met some of those living with HIV/AIDS, but there is still widespread ignorance about how it is spread.   Continued...