All Eyes and Ears

“This exquisitely done production uses the Ambassadorship of Jon Huntsman, Jr. to the People’s Republic of China (2009-2011) as a vehicle to look at a number of issues in contemporary China and its relationship with the United States. The main focus is on Huntsman’s adopted daughter, Gracie Mei, who was born in China. Gracie Mei’s origins often become a springboard to introduce the Ambassador to the Chinese – she is even welcomed to the orphanage where she spent her first few months of life. There are also a number of recent cameos of Gracie Mei in a recording studio where she comments on her experiences in China and how she views her experiences now. Ambassador Huntsman is fluent in Mandarin and it is a delight to see him interacting with various individuals in their native tongue. The producer/director of this film had amazing access to Ambassador Huntsman and we see an intimate portrait of the Huntsmans as they travel throughout the country meeting with various groups and individuals. Most of the talk pertains to trade, but military affairs, China’s emergence as a global power, and human rights, including Tibet, are also discussed/portrayed. Interspersed throughout the production are comments by a large number of scholars, “experts,” and activists. One of the latter, and the one with perhaps the most face time, is the blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng. All of this makes for an informative, and even entertaining, look at China.

Of the several productions that this reviewer has had the privilege of reviewing in the past few years, this is one of the most professionally rendered in terms of script along with visual and sound elements. Recommended for all libraries, but especially those that deal with China. ”