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The film follows the personal and political struggle of Rebiya Kadeer, regarded as the most galvanizing leader of the Uyghur people of East Turkestan in 60 years. The Uyghur are China's Muslim minority. She was married off at 14 to a Communist Party member, a bank clerk, had 6 children - and idolized the young resistance fighters who were routinely imprisoned and/or executed. Divorce was inevitable and she lost custody of her children. Broke and alone, she began doing other people's washing ...and soon started a business, which grew. She needed a partner to help her crusade for her people, and she laid out 10 conditions the man must meet. Friends suggested someone recently released from nine years jail for protesting against China. She found Sidik Rouzi in a distant village. Rebiya's business acumen made her rich - but not a willing puppet for the Chinese. She was jailed for her resistance and spent three years of six in solitary. She now lives in exile in the United States (as does her daughter Ray), where she is gaining influential friends and media coverage to help her campaign for her people's human rights. As a result, her other children are in prison in China.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Just like the Dalai Lama, Rebiya Kadeer strikes fear in the hearts of China's leaders like no US or UN President can, because in those hearts the Chinese leaders know - consciously or unconsciously - that a single voice speaking for the oppressed millions under their rule is heard loud and clear. Neither of these two charismatic and determined figures promote violence: they both stand for and urge China to behave humanely. "I'm not saying independence, I'm saying human rights and democracy," says Rebiya Kadeer in this riveting and controversial documentary.

The Chinese Government have tried to silence not only Kadeer but the filmmaker Jeff Daniels, and to shut the film out of the 2009 Melbourne Film Festival. The ABC was to screen it in December 2009 but it didn't, although ABC boss Marck Scott said on Feb 9, 2010 that it would go to air this year. There may be comp0licated political reasons for the timing, possibly tied to the ABC's push to keep control of the international broadcast service for Australia. Such sensitivities are not surprising, given the film portrays the Chinese Government's totalitarian approach to the Uyghurs of East Turkestan (much like they do to the Tibetans). As Rebiya's husband poignantly asks towards the end of the film, what kind of Government takes its revenge against parents who speak out against their policies by arresting and imprisoning their children? It's a rhetorical question and we know the answer from the rest of the film. On the world stage, the Chinese Government is its own worst enemy.

Kadeer's is a rich, tumultuous, gripping and powerful story; Jeff Daniels shapes it well in this one hour doco, although I will not be surprised to see the story made into a full blown feature film. (Who'll play Rebiya!?) There are some parallels with the story of Li Cunxin (Mao's Last Dancer) but Rebiya's has broader and bigger connotations in world politics. But the film is deeply personal; indeed, the title is not symbolic or metaphoric; it refers to real love and her private life.

Her story highlights how badly China's bullying reflects on Chinese national character - one of the key aspects of 'face' which Chinese authorities are so keen to nurture. The counterproductive oppression and human rights abuses that characterise modern China produces the exact opposite of what they wish to achieve. That great nation of clever, inventive and resourceful people are saddled with a Government too steeped in old fashioned communist dogma to let personal freedom drive it forward.

The film details how the Chinese used the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to paint the Uyghurs with the Muslim = terrorist label, which would at least slow and confuse the West. This film debunks that fakery, and it also goes inside the Kadeer family to explore the complex and painful issue of Rebiya's public stance as it affects four of her children, now in prison for being hers.

I especially like the way Jeff Daniels relates the story of Rebiya's deal with the Chinese, when she is offered the chance to leave her prion and go to the US for medical treatment. They want her to promise she won't continue her campaign and speak ill of the Government. She agrees with everything they ask. She promptly breaks her promise on arrival in the US, and she explains why she has no bad conscience about that. "I lied to the Chinese Government to get my freedom ... when I told them the truth, they put me in prison."

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(Aust/US, 2009)

CAST: Documentary featuring Rebiya Kadeer

PRODUCER: Jeff Daniels, John Lewis, Dennis K. Smith

DIRECTOR: Jeff Daniels

SCRIPT: Jeff Daniels


EDITOR: Tony Stevens

MUSIC: Dale Cornelius

RUNNING TIME: 53 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 1, 2010 (exclusively through Borders shops)


SPECIAL FEATURES: Journey through Rebiya's homeland; Q@A at 2010 Melbourne Film Festival; extended & deleted scenes;

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