LOS ANGELES, April 22 – A new documentary has revealed the “completely unknown” story of six Chinese men who survived the sinking of the Titanic and adds a new chapter to the history of the world’s most famous ship.
With Oscar-winning director James Cameron as executive producer, the Six got rave reviews in China and at one point trending on the country’s Twitter-like Weibo after its release on Friday.
Director Arthur Jones is hoping it will have the same impact when it is screened overseas and finally dispels the myths that have persisted for more than a century.
For the Briton and principal researcher Steven Schwankert, the Six gives voice, life and faces to a small group of Chinese men who were among around 700 surviving the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.
Jones said a painstaking project spanning multiple countries and years was nothing more than a joke between longtime friends, both based in China.
“Steven came to me and told me that we should do the history of the Chinese Titanic with the Chinese who were on the Titanic,” Jones, 47, told AFP in his Shanghai studio.
“I thought he was joking because I thought it was just one of those things we laughed at.
“I looked, and it was true. But initially my thought was this: I don’t know if the world needs another Titanic movie or another Titanic documentary. “
Jones said they knew they were on to something when they mentioned it to Chinese friends.
“They were just amazed that there was this completely unknown story of the Titanic, it just seemed like an amazing thing,” he said.
the Six sees Schwankert and his fellow researchers poring over the archives and meeting descendants across continents as they attempt to piece together what happened to humans after surviving the most famous shipwreck of all time.
“It got pretty epic in terms of research,” Jones said.
Eight Chinese were on board the fateful third-class ship when it sank after hitting an iceberg. Six, mostly sailors but not working on the Titanic, made it out alive on life rafts.
Cameron, who won Best Director and Best Picture at the Oscars for his 1997 success Titanic, fully supported the documentary and allowed Jones to show a scene that was not included in the movie version of the blockbuster.
In the cutscene, an Asian-looking man hung for life on a piece of wood is plucked from the icy water, possibly becoming the last person to be saved.
When Schwankert and his team tracked down the man’s son in real life, it turned out that he knew next to nothing about what his late father had endured as he had never really talked about it.
As they delved into what had become of the six men, word of their project spread, prompting more people to provide information. Even now, new details are appearing.
Parallels with today
A strong element of the film is the prejudice that Chinese immigrant workers and sailors face as they seek new life in the West.
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned Chinese workers from the United States, slamming the door on their “American dream.” The men arrived in New York City with the other survivors but were dispatched out of the country less than 24 hours later.
The parallels between anti-Asian sentiment yesterday and today, especially in the United States, are not lost on Jones and Schwankert.
“People, whether in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom or anywhere else, have not suddenly developed these negative feelings in the past two or three months,” Schwankert, 50, said by call. video from Luoyang, in the city center. Henan province.
“These are deeply rooted issues.”
The film also debunks allegations that the Chinese men snuck into the lifeboat that rescued them by disguising themselves as women or hiding on the raft.
Chinese viewers are happy that the true survival story of their compatriots has now been told.
“Before anything else, the audience here is saying thank you for filling out this little piece of unwritten history, or maybe poorly written history,” Jones said. ETX Studio