A documentary with reenactments, Susan Morgan Cooper’s “Mulberry Child” traces the complicated lives of China-born Jian Ping and her daughter Lisa Xia, who has lived in America since the age of three. There are indelible moments through, from the bold tapestry of decades of history to the expressions on the faces of interviewees. This one story about the effects of the tumult of the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976 suggests the millions of others still untold. Without the recreated scenes, based on the memoir Jian Ping wrote after living in the U.S. for twenty years, Cooper would have had much less to work with, and the choice seems sound as long as its hybrid form is taken into account. The story of stories passed along generations is a moving one, and the reconciliation of Chinese family and American family offers honorable uplift. Jacqueline Bisset narrates. HDCAM video. 85m. (Ray Pride)
“Mulberry Child” plays Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday at Siskel with the filmmaker and subjects in attendance. A trailer is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.