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Famine film sparks sad memories


16:51, November 30, 2012

MOVIEGOERS packed cinemas across China yesterday for the first public screenings of a film that explores a painful topic for the nation - famine.

"Back To 1942," directed by Feng Xiaogang, focuses on a drought which killed 3 million people in central China's Henan Province.

The morning showings left some members of the audience, many of whom were elderly, visibly upset.

"The movie is very heavy and truthful, it reminds me of many scenes from my life," said 75-year-old Chen Mingya in Zhengzhou, Henan's capital.

The film tells the story of refugees who fled their hometowns in search of food, a situation made worse by the Japanese invasion and a dysfunctional Nationalist government. Many starved to death on the grueling journey to nearby Shaanxi Province.

"People lost their dignity," said Feng's wife Xu Fan, who plays a farmer who sold herself for a handful of millet to feed her children.

The younger generation may be unfamiliar with the period, but it had left a scar in the memories of the middle-aged and elderly, Feng said.

"Our nation is characterized by tremendous sufferings in history. To know where we come from helps us understand where we should go," Feng said in Shanghai.

"Hunger can make people do crazy things," said Yu Baoyou, a 51-year-old resident of Henan's Zhumadian.

Yu recalled how villagers jumped into floodwater to catch dead cattle and rotten vegetables after a dam burst in 1975 killed more than 26,000 people and left many others without food.

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