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Posts Tagged ‘birth control’

“ONE CHILD NATION” My rating: B+ 

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Americans — thoughtful ones, anyway — know all about collective guilt.

After all, under our belts we’ve got 200 years of slavery, the decimation of the continent’s aboriginal population, internment camps for loyal Japanese Americans…and President Donald J. Trump.

That’s just for starters.

But we’re given a run for our money by China, which for nearly 40 years enforced its one-child-per-family rule with millions of involuntary sterilizations and abortions.

The  moral weight of that experience is at the heart of “One Child Nation,” a devastating documentary that starts out as an examination of personal history and quickly becomes an indictment of an entire culture.

The film follows Nanfu Wang (who co-directs with Jialing Zhang) as she returns to her birthplace in China (she’s now a U.S. resident).  Visiting her native village in Jiangxi Province she interviews older citizens — including her schoolteacher mother and the burg’s former mayor — about the one-child policy that was in effect from 1979 to 2015.

At the time it was the largest example of social engineering in the world; the filmmakers display TV ads, posters, parades and songs designed to make the one-child effort as important as buying bonds during wartime.

Mostly Wang’s subjects toe the party line, declaring the policy a great success which prevented mass starvation and allowed China to slowly build itself into the economic powerhouse we see today. They’re proud to have done their duty and by doing so to have guaranteed the survival of their country.

But bit by bit horror stories come slithering out.  The former mayor talks about standing to one side, shamefully unable to act or to interfere when authorities arrested women found to be illegally pregnant.

A midwife sorrowfully estimates she was responsible for as many as 20,000 forced abortions — often involving weeping, pleading women who had to be tied down for the operation.  Many of those aborted fetuses were late-termers capable of surviving outside the womb. They were strangled. This same woman now devotes her life to good deeds, hoping to expunge the bad karma she has built up over decades.

At one point the filmmakers stumble across a dumpster filled with snapshots of aborted babies.

(more…)

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