We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Documentary footage taken in the square shows them arm in arm, happy, surrounded by cheering students. Knowing their time together might be short, they enter a tent that is erected on the spot. "I had never been with a woman," Li Lu remembers. "We had just begun to undress, but never got a chance to perform our duty." They were interrupted by growing tension in the square. Before long the troops began to move, and the lovers were separated. "I never saw her again," Li Lu says.
Now a graduate with three degrees from Columbia University, he tells this story during an interview in New York with Michael Apted, director of "Moving the Mountain." Li Lu is one of several leaders who tell their stories in the film; some are in New York, some are scattered overseas (Paris, Hong Kong) and one is still in hiding in Beijing.
The larger story of Tiananmen Square has been told many times, symbolized by a remarkable live shot of a single student facing down the approach of a tank. What this film documents are some of the smaller stories that went into it. Apted talks to several of the key leaders, who still express disbelief that the People's Army would fire on Chinese citizens, and who blame themselves (sometimes with tears) for not being "adequate" to protect the lives of their followers.
No one knows for sure how many people were killed in the Tiananmen massacre. "When they said (on government broadcasts) the troops had not fired, that is how we knew they had fired," says one of the leaders of the movement for Chinese democracy. "When they said no one had been killed, that is how we knew many people had been killed - not one or two, but many, because otherwise they would not have mentioned it." Apted is a remarkable figure among directors for his lifelong practice of moving between fiction films and documentaries. His features include "Coal Miner's Daughter," "Gorillas in the Mist," "Blink" and the recent "Nell." At the same time, he has continued the "7-Up" films, a series tracking the lives of the same group of people every seven years. His other documentaries are on subjects such as a shooting at the Oglala Indian reservation, the Rolling Stones and Sting.