TIANANMEN: THE PEOPLE VS THE PARTY
PBS (June 2019)
An in-depth look back at the Chinese student protest movement that captivated the world three decades ago.
In the decade following China’s opening up to the Western world, the country had experienced unprecedented reform, but its leaders remained resistant to the growing voice of the people and rumblings of demands for more democratic freedoms. Following the death of a former Communist Party head and reformist, Hu Yaobang, protests began in Beijing’s iconic Tiananmen Square, with students largely leading the charge. Director Ian MacMillan’s film follows the seven weeks beginning from this point in mid-April 1989 as demonstrations grew and spread around the country, creating division within the Communist Party leadership as to how to address the crisis. Eventually, hardline tactics saw troops let loose on the peaceful protest, resulting in a bloody massacre on June 3 and 4 that drew the attention of the entire world. Drawing from extensive archival footage as well as the reflections of protestors, the film contextualizes this pivotal event in China’s history and explores its continuing impact.