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Sha Bihong: Interpret Life with Sincerity and Kindness; 15:01, April 9, 2004; Economic Daily

This article is reproduced from the Economic Daily on April 1, 2004. It’s certainly not enough to describe Sha Bihong as a writer even though she published the first poetical work Return in 1983, a collection of poems Give Your Dream a Boat and a collection of novels Lovelorn Summer in 1992, a novel Homelessness in 2000 and the latest novel I am Not a Lamb. She is more like a social worker, as her eyes never leave humanistic care. Until now, some people from poverty-stricken areas often find her through various channels and wish to obtain help through her. “Female perspective” and “consciousness of care” have become her icons.

The reason is that Sha Bihong shot a series of documentaries like One Dream for Generations of Women, Flowery Spring and Fruitful Autumn and Social Care with focus on poverty and on women and children in poverty-stricken areas after joining CCTV program Half the Sky in 1994. And the program Telling hosted by her impressed the audience in the way of “telling a true life story every day”. She is kind and considerate during hosting, and her works have evoked repercussions in the society and changed the destiny of many people, so many people found her to seek help. And she always tried her best to give them spiritual encouragement and offer them material assistance. Now she and her family members offer study assistance to almost 20 girls every month. The new work Dance directed by her last year won “International Media Award” in Hamburg of Germany, and she was selected by the World’s Legendary Directresses serial of RAI as a representative of Oriental directresses. They said they saw in Sha Bihong the spirit of humanistic care and selfless professional dedication of Chinese directors.

“Iron woman” with sense of responsibility

Sha Bihong is indeed called as an “iron woman” by colleagues.

In 2000, Sha Bihong and her younger sister Sha Bifang co-directed China’s first full-length documentary Social Care revealing the destiny of abducted women and children. In order to shoot this documentary, they followed police officers to fight for 1 year, went through the test of life and death together with police officers, led camera crew to run around cities and towns in the west and in the east, and conducted in-depth interview on over 3,000 abducted young girls and dozens of human traffickers…

They shot materials lasting tens of thousands of minutes and wrote hundreds of thousands of documentary words showing “fighting against human trafficking” at the risk of their lives.

It was very dangerous and painstaking to follow police officers to fight. As human traffickers usually took actions at night, the crew often could not sleep for several days, and had just slept without undressing but had to set off together with police officers sometimes. Transportation was difficult in remote areas, but they often had to climb over several mountains on foot within one day. After arriving at the destination, many young police officers were too tired and fell to the ground, but Sha Bihong still insisted on interview. “Directress Sha, we really admire you. You are a woman almost made of iron. Even Mrs. Thatcher can’t compare with you!” said local guide who led the way and police officers admiringly. It's no wonder that many colleagues said, “Sha Bihong has a strong sense of responsibility as a director.” It’s just such strong sense of responsibility that supported her to run throughout the country, consume excessive energy and become an “iron woman”.

Truly care for vulnerable women

When talking about Sha Bihong, we have to mention her latest masterpiece I am Not a Lamb, which is a derivative from her participation in “fighting against human trafficking”. After finishing the novel, she adapted it to telescript and directed a 20-episode TV series together with her sister Sha Bifang. The TV series of the same name which is the first one reflecting the theme of fighting against human trafficking in China has been completed. With focus on women’s destiny, it tells a story that three flower-like young girls who go to cities for work with beautiful dreams but fall into the clutches of human traffickers, are forced to be wives and are forced into prostitution.

Sha Bihong is a directress with the background of TV reporter. She still considers from a reporter’s perspective while choosing this theme for her first TV series: care for women and children, care for education, care for vulnerable groups. It is her dream to shoot I am Not a Lamb after following police officers to fight against human traffickiing. She pays attention to destiny of vulnerable women and is full of compassion for them. She said, “As a creator, nobody knows about abducted girls than we do, and nobody understands the heart of parents who lost their children than we do.

These parents are looking at us and those girls are expecting us. This TV series is shot for them, and we must be meticulous!” She wishes that through this TV series more people can pay attention to abducted women and children, more people can help them and understand them, these girls can be accepted by their family and friends after they are saved and resume living and working, and the society can provide them with a better atmosphere and help them get back on their feet. After all, they suffered hardship and experienced frustrations. The audience will see the process of realization, breaking and realization of dreams of several flower-like young girls in this TV series. The happy ending proves that she tries to show the hope and confidence of these girls. She wants to convey an idea: the one who constantly strives to become stronger can get a new life in difficulties.

Since she became a directress of films and televisions, Sha Bihong has paid much attention to topics about women. She said, “I know one TV series or one book can’t change anything, but I wish that through such true life stories a lamp of hope can be lighted in the heart of girls who suffered frustrations.”

Touch the heart of all people with sincerity

Sha Bihong’s ancestral home is located in Jiangsu, mountains and rivers there endow her with beauty and intelligence, and vast and fertile Northeast Plain endows her with character of chivalrousness and straightforwardness. In front of or behind the camera, she always speaks not too hasty and not too slowly. While listening to her, people can keep a peaceful mind and accept her guidance. It makes her own a natural ability of communication with people.

Since 1994, Sha Bihong has run throughout the country for two circles and made friends with police officers in many provinces and with abducted women who were saved. Characters in I am Not a Lamb, positive or negative, derive from people she interviewed so to speak. She still keeps in contact with the girl on whom the character of an abducted girl in the work was based. The girl said she would open a flower store and swear she would not see Sha Bihong until she achieved success.

But it’s not enough to own the quality of communication in order to influence criminals who are caught but do not confess guilt.

Most of human traffickers came from remote and poverty-stricken mountain villages and 95% of them had no education, so they knew nothing about the law. No.1 criminal of a criminal gang did not admit he broke the law and refused to confess details of crime after being caught. Sha Bihong indirectly knew that he was very filial and went to his home to visit his aged mother, and then interviewed him and told him, “Your mother does not want to see ‘an older one participates in the funeral of a younger one’.” Her sincerity made him abandon holding fast to the fort of crime and reveal all crime details under her influence, and the tape of conversation between them became the basis for interrogation.

All people are moved by her sincerity. Sha Bihong said that she pursued “beauty” instead of “doctrine”, the reason why she pursued beauty was that beauty contained sincerity and kindness, and sincerity and kindness were all the content of her life. (Author: Wu Jiajia)

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