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Five Roles of Sha Bihong (Excerpt)


64 Jan. 2002 Five Roles of Sha Bihong Communication and Eloquence

Five Roles of Sha Bihong

One has to play at least a role in his/her life. If he/she fails to play well even one role, he/she would be called a loser. On the contrary, if one plays two or even more roles quite well in the life, he/she has had a successful or even a splendid life. And of course, it is also a difficult mission at the same time. In my eyes, Ms.Sha Bihong, a female director at CCTV, should be such a lady who has experienced greatest happiness by playing multiple roles in her life.

Role No. 1: A Heroine

On a night in last spring, Sha Bihong told me on the phone that she was in a remote mountainous village in Fujian Province filming a 12-episode TV documentary entitled Heaven Has Tears about the police cracking down on the human trafficking. She was the Chief Director of this TV documentary. Just on that night, she followed the police to rescue an abducted girl. Feeling extremely excited for the success of rescue, she gave me that phone call.

What? Sha Bihong was involved in the crack down on human trafficking? I was not ready to link Sha Bihong with such a bold move. Wearing Tang dress, Sha often spends her spare time in the city bars, lives a decent and aesthetic life, and talks in a gentle way. It is really difficult to imagine such a graceful and elegant woman can be involved in the difficult work of cracking down on human trafficking in the remote dirty villages. Judging from the elusive mobile signal, I know she was in the mountainous village. Judging from her position as the director of CCTV, I believe she was in the mountainous village. Judging from her impulsive and heroine character sometimes shown in her routine gentleness, I believe she was in the mountainous village. Judging from her surprising decisions and moves that I often heard in these years, I believe she was then in the remote, dirty and dangerous mountainous village. Sha Bihong spent half a year in one after another poor and remote villages. As a matter of fact, she could have filmed, just as her colleagues do, some fashionable city life such as bars and cafes.

Role No. 2: Woman Activist

I first knew Sha Bihong a few years ago when she was trying to lobby me hard. At that time, I collaborated with the female writer Nan Ni to publish a book series. Sha Bihong, who was a stranger to us, bought our books in Shenzhen where she was filming and made a long-distance call to me, inviting Nan Ni and me to a talk show in CCTV as the guests. To her surprise, both Nan Ni and I said thanks to her and didn’t accept the invitation. For a director in CCTV, she seldom heard somebody saying no to her invitation. Just at this time, I realized the extraordinary lobbying capacity of Sha Bihong. She was patient, gentle, kind and determined. Of course, Nan Ni and I were persuaded by her at last.

In the character of Sha Bihong, we can find the magnetic nature, or affinity. She has been working at CCTV for 3 or 4 years as the Director of a female program called Half the Sky. When talking with people, it is not surprising if she shows somewhat arrogant attitude. But the fact is that you don’t have to worry about it when talking with her. Sha does not look like a CCTV director. Instead, she looks more like a considerate and elegant friend. Her moderate talking speed, slight gestures, humble attitude and quite standard Mandarin reveal the wonderful education she has received. It is really a pleasure to talk freely with such a friend like her. It is said that a few directors of CCTV once tried to invite the writer Chen Cun as the studio guest and were refused because the writer was not in good health. Nevertheless, Sha Bihong succeeded in persuading him, who was then a stranger to Sha. It shows the great ability of Sha who can show her determination in her sincerity, modesty and friendliness. Her resolute inner world is not hidden behind her gentle look and appearance. In other words, her gentleness supports her determination. That’s why she has presented quite strong capacity in social activities. For instance, the filming team of Heaven Has Tears includes a few dozens of members, who are all capable in some field or another. But Sha Bihong showed perfect ability of communications and became a friend of all these people. She has high rate of achieving success when doing things. And this is the benchmark measuring the activist in modern days.

As an activist with passion and sense of justice, she would do something beyond the imagination of common people. Her decision to film the documentary about cracking down on human trafficking did not come from the instant impulse. For a long time, she has been using her subtle and keen character unique to women to give attention to the fate of the abducted women and children. In 1995, she carried a filming camera to the rural area in an effort to reveal the fate of girls in villages who couldn’t afford to receive education. In 1996, Sha went to Shenzhen in South China to film a documentary about the kids of migrant population who found it difficult to be enrolled in schools. She has the sincere motivation in the heart. When facing those people in the disadvantaged situation, she often has tears on the face. Showing love in her heroine character, she has moved those abducted women who had sunk into and got accustomed to the indecent life. She even found some clues to other criminal offences in the process of cracking down on human trafficking

Role No. 3: Female Writer

In the spring of 2000, Sha Bihong, while taking great social responsibility, published a heart-moving long novel entitled Homelessness, which tells stories of a few Chinese women in Europe about their life, experience, marriage and sex beyond their hometown. This long novel is commented by specialists as matching the famous novel of the same kind called Beijing People in New York. Sha Bihong once said to her friends that she planned to write a novel about the fate of Chinese women living abroad. Nevertheless, her friends were not quite serious about her words because they know Sha is busy travelling on business and cannot find sufficient time to write a novel. But Sha did find some time and completed the novel with 300,000 Chinese characters. If you don’t know how she is like, you can never understand why she is always full of energy in writing, why she is so imaginative, and why her thinking is so deep. As a matter of fact, as early as 1987, Sha Bihong in her twenties composed a probing drama Untitled Drama ABC. In 1992, she published her poem collection Give a Boat to Dreams, and her prose collection Lovelorn Summer. So it is not surprising for her, a young but experienced writer with extreme passion, to write such a novel.

Role No. 4: A Female Intellectual

Sha Bihong is a lady with diversified life experience. Her family came from Jiangsu Province and her parents are both intellectuals. Sha was born in a rural town in Heilongjiang Province where her parents were deployed in the Cultural Revolution. She spent her youth in the town and left it to receive higher education. In this small town in Dongning, most of the high school teachers were college teachers forced to leave their jobs in big cities. That’s why in this small town, 90% of the high school graduates were enrolled in universities in that year. And in her school, Sha Bihong always stood in the leading position in all kinds of examinations. In the entrance examination to college in 1982, her score of Chinese as a language ranked No. 1 in China. In 1994, Sha took the exam to CCTV and also took the leading position. According to Sha Bihong, examinations seem to be made for her. The wonderful education background provides her with solid foundation in her future career. Also because of her perfect education, Sha is full of sense of justice to get involved in the cracking down on human trafficking.

Last year, I had the opportunity to accompany the filming team of the abduction crackdown. I fully understood how difficult it was and how much it cost to make the TV documentary about abduction crackdown. Actually, it really went beyond my expectation.

Sha is helping the police to persuade the abducted woman back home.

Inflicted by mosquitoes, insects and the hot July temperature, we lived inthesmall attic prepared for the migrant workers. The disgusting odor seemed to suffocate our breath. Sweat flowed down from our eye lid, from the pen tip and made our clothing all wet, sinking us into the great embarrassment. One day, we were almost detained by local gangsters as hostages. But Sha Bihong told me this place was much better than those she had been to. Later on, Sha said she had experienced all difficulties when living in the rural area as a child. That’s why she was not daunted by hardship. Even when the abduction crackdown campaign was in its toughest time, she could still write her diary at night in the dim light of torch.

Role No. 5: Female Student Studying Overseas

In 1991, Sha Bihong went to Germany to learn movie production.

The overseas-study experience brought great changes to her notion.

As what Sha Bihong said, she spent her childhood while singing the Sun in the East (a revolutionary song praising Chairman Mao Zedong) and started her youth in the endless exams. So she didn’t have fixed life value. But the opened-up society rescued them out of decay and their spirit began to wander, trying to find a hometown to rest their life. With such a dream, young Sha Bihong left China for Germany for further study. And one of the tangible results of her overseas study is her novel Homelessness. And the intangible result is her new philosophy of life and the knowledge of using movie means to film TV documentary. This explains why many people say the TV documentaries of Sha Bihong are full of movie language.

These are just a few examples of roles played by Sha Bihong. In her vocational role, Sha Bihong is now the hostess of Story program at CCTV. In her family role, Sha is the wife and mother of a little girl. In her recreational role, Sha Bihong operates a salon in Beijing with her own collections. In her fashionable role, Sha Bihong is often seen in bar wearing Tang dress, presenting the harmony in strong contrast. In her communication role, Sha Bihong is a trustworthy friend. And the genuine Sha Bihong is there when all these roles are combined.

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