November 27, 2018

“Better Angels,” a new film that examines U.S.-China relations through the lives of ordinary people in both nations, will formally premier in China at a private showing in Beijing on Saturday.

The film couldn’t come at a better time. Increasingly acrimonious relations between U.S. and China are hurting economic growth around the world and raising geopolitical tensions.   A headline in the New York Times this week declared:  “In Race for Global Power, U.S. and China Push Nations to Pick a Side.”

In an interview, “Better Angels” producer William Mundell described the movie as “the untold story of the true potential of the U.S.-China relationship” and “an opening salvo” in an effort to close the gap in U.S.-Sino relations. The two countries, he said, have “reached an inflection point in their relationship” and need to work together to “capitalize on our differences.”

The film, which took five years to make, is directed by Academy and Emmy Award winner Malcolm Clarke.  Mundell’s earlier film project, “Gerrymandering,” helped to influence election reform in California. “Better Angels” cost $2.5 million to make and was financed with American money and Canadian tax credits, he said.

Mundell said he envisioned “Better Angels “as a collection of short stories,” he said. The film in part highlights the lives of ordinary people on both sides and their potential role as “accidental diplomats,” a perspective that is largely ignored by mainstream media, Mundell said. “Maybe a movie can change the dynamics of U.S.-China relations.”

Mundell first came to China with his father, Nobel-prize-winning economist Robert Mundell,  in the 1990s, and had a chance to meet Chinese leaders and learn about the country “as a fly on the wall.”   The businessman has made more than 100 trips to China and is an honorary professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

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