April 2008 Smithsonian Kite Festival features kitemakers from China
The 42nd Annual Smithsonian Museum Kite Festival is one of the premier festivals in the U.S. This year's theme was Chinese kites. Our friend and documentary participant, Kong Lingmin came to Washington D.C. from Beijing to show his kites.
Beijing kitemaker Jiehua Sun also participated with his fabulous dragon kite.
April 2007 Nantong kitemaker Zhang Wenzhi visits St. Paul, Minnesota
The Land of 10,000 Lakes was the backdrop for Wishes for the Sky, an Earth Day celebration organized by artist-in-residence, Marcus Young. Marcus invited Nantong kitemaker Zhang Wenzhi to participate in this public art event featuring one thousand blue, green and purple Beijing swallow kites. Kitefliers wrote their wishes and promises to the earth on the kites, then flew them to welcome the spring.
Zhang Wenzhi introduced us to the ancient, intricate kites of his hometown during our trip to Nantong, China in 2003. With help from our griend and assistant producer Hsu Yuan Ming, we caught up with Zhang in Minnesota and had the thrill of watching him launch the first Nantong kite to fly American skies.
Look for Mr. Zhang during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He has been selected to join in a demonstration of traditional Chinese kites.
October 2006 - Beijing
It's true. Beijing is changing with lightning speed as it gears up for the 2008 Olympics. But many wonderful old sites and customs can still be found, like the ancient Bell Tower, left, and the Drum Tower, which was originally built in 1260. These were once Beijing's clocks. The Bell Tower rang out the time as recently as 1926.
Chinese Artistic Kites, written by Ha Kuiming and his son Ha Yiqi in 1990, was the first inspiration for Wind Above, Earth Below. Sadly, we are too late to meet Ha Kuiming, who has passed away. But in 2006, we had the great pleasure to meet Ha Yiqi, a fourth generation kitemaker. We found Mr. Ha to be a gracious host and first rate artist. He is currently recreating over 200 kite designs developed by his father and grandfather, and will be publishing a book about his family's kites.
September 2006 Chen Zhaoji is named AKA Grand National Champion
Chen Zhaoji, invited to America by the Ohio kite club Pigs Aloft, brought his mechanical kites to the American Kiteflier's Association's annual convention in Des Moines, Iowa. Chen competed in several events, winning the highest scores in several categories. Chen was also named 2006 Grand National Champion, having accumulated the most points in this year's competition. Chen is a featured kite artist in Wind Above, Earth Below.