Director/Producer Robin Greenberg’s fascination with the story of the ‘Free China’ junk began in Christchurch, New Zealand in the late 1980s. One day, her long-time T’ai chi teacher and mentor Loo-Chi Hu (Huloo) casually mentioned that he was one of junk-mates aboard the incredible 1955 trans-Pacific crossing of the ‘Free China’ junk. Her documentary film Huloo (2008), on his amazing life, features a chapter on this extraordinary voyage.
It was during research for Huloo in the USA that the seeds of the full-length documentary film The Free China Junk (2010) were born. Robin feels fortunate to have spent time with and interviewed the five surviving junk-mates (including Paul Chow, Reno Chen, Marco Chung and Calvin Mehlert). The film celebrated their stories and maritime achievement – and brought to the world’s attention this long forgotten and inspiring tale.
In the post-script of The Free China Junk, an appeal to support the efforts of the US non-profit Chinese Junk Preservation (initiated by junk-mate Reno Chen’s daughter, Dione Chen) was included in order to raise awareness about the junk’s imminent destruction in northern California where it lay abandoned in dry-dock. www.ChineseJunkPreservation.com
Robin’s creative collaboration with musician/composer Jim Kimo West continues with this sequel film Return of the Free China Junk. (http://jimkimowest.com) And editor Peter Metcalf has truly been the project’s angel in generously and skillfully helping to shepherd the film closer to the finish line despite scant financial resources. (http://195.co.nz)
Return of the Free China Junk not only charts the incredible journey of the junk’s return to Taiwan – but also reveals the inspirational role this historic vessel plays in in personal, family and collective histories.
The documentary will be dedicated to the memory of Huloo, Robin’s mentor, who sadly passed away in Christchurch, September 2013, before this film could be completed.