盲人电影院 – Cinema for the blind – English

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Shichahai, also known as Houhai, is now considered one of the hottest attractions in Beijing. In the early years, the favourite places for visitors to Beijing were only the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and Badalian, but now, often, they also go to Sanlitun, Houhai and 798, as if a trip to Beijing that did not include these places did not count. Shichahai literally means “ten temple lake”, and takes its name from the ten ancient temples that are built by the lake. According to A Note of Rebuilding Guanghua Temple in the period of Wanli Emperor in Ming dynasty, “a large lake in the north of the capital city, named Shichahai, because ten forests surrounded the lake, so it was named”. There is also a folk expression that says “nine monasteries and a shrine”. In fact, there are more than ten temples here, according to the latest statistics, the Shichahai area has over 100 religious buildings and sites, so it seems that called it the “hundred temple lake” would not be excessive.

Starting from the drum tower along Drum Tower West Main Street towards the west, passing by the comedy Cross-Talk show theater that was started by people from the 80′s generation and mostly appreciated by the same generation of people, in less than five minutes’ walk, you can see a normal courtyard gate at the north side of the road, decorated with an advertisement for some after-school education agency. Going through the easily-ignored gate, after walking a few steps, there’s an entirely different world. This is a three layered square courtyard, living room in the north, yard in the south with old-fashioned and plain architectures and big sky-scrapping trees, gray and dark green bricks and tiles, doors and windows that are painted in red, entirely obeying the old fashion and ancient rules.If you ask the old people nearby the know that this is the Shou Ming temple built in the Ming dynasty. The Shou Ming temple is one of the many temples in the Houhai area, and although no more incense is burnt there today, it still retains its original architectural structure, where you can only vaguely see the prosperity of that time. The last time I heard the name of the Shou Ming Temple was at a certain Beijing auction in 2007, in the auction catalog, there was a set of “five cult items” in porcelain, with eight lines of white and blue floral scroll, from the Qing dynasty (the “five cult items” are a set of items for religious worship, including an incense burner, a pair of flower gobelets and a pair of candlesticks), and the three words “Shou Ming temple” are written on the porcelain in blue and white, and it seems that it was an incense burning set for the monastery. The full set was valued between 1 and 2 million yuan, 整套瓷器估价在一百万至一百二十万元人民币之间,Its former owner was the English Richard Tai Mingwei (now deceased), from London, who worked for Sotheby’s; as for the porcelain, how it got into his hands, it is now difficult to trace. 说到这儿,我仿佛看到当年这套五供瓷器供奉于香火缭绕的寿明寺中,联想到现如今只剩下价格不菲的古董和物是人非的庙堂,不禁让人慨叹岁月沧桑。

Today, Shou Ming Temple is a public venue, the temple hall rooms are used as offices or classrooms, but the East side hall in the second courtyard is leased to a public welfare agency called “mind cinema”. “Mind cinema” is actually cinema for the blind.

Hearing about cinema for the blind, you may be surprised, and it’s not just you: Ning Caishen, the screenwriter of “Wulin”, when he first heard about the place, shared the same doubts. He said: “That’s so strange, it sounds like an insult, how can blind people watch a film?” But after really understanding how bling people “watch” a film, he completely changed his view, and even hoped to invite a blind friend to view each of his movies in the future. ” If there’s a chance, I also hope to be a guide here“, he said.

When you push open the front door of “mind cinema”, the first thing you see is rows of chairs in the middle of the room: this is the auditorium of the cinema for the blind. Every Saturday, in this space of about 40 square meters, blind friends coming from all over the city will sit here while volunteers guide them through a movie. Generally, people with very low vision sit next to the TV, they can rely on their reminding perception of light to “see” the screen, and so they seize the front row. Those who are totally blind are relegated to the rear. If there is still an empty chair in the room, the volunteers will sit there; otherwise, they will sit on a stool at the back of the room. Some volunteers may even be standing on the sides of the hall, ready to help the blind people. 门对面的墙上是一大张横幅画布,上面贴满了曾在这里讲过电影的明星的照片和留言,在上面我找到了崔永元、王小丫等众多名人的笔迹。画布上方从左至右下整齐排列着一幅幅志愿者自己设计的电影海报,有手绘的也有些是电脑制作,一张张都充满了创意。

On the left hand side of the door is a cabinet and a sofa, and against the wall is a shelf full of Chinese and foreign DVDs. People say that from 2006 untill now, there have been hundreds of screenings here, and so hundreds of films have been described and talked about, it’s amazing to think of it! Many of the DVDs and shelves are donations from companies and individuals, and at the end of the shelf, I saw the name of the donor written. On the top of the DVD shelves and in cabinets across the room, there is a wide range of models and figurines : dinosaurs, buildings, planes, cars, etc. among them, there was even a model atomic bomb. These are all given to the blind people for them to touch. The founder of “Mind cinema”, David, told me this story: a man in his fifties, when he first touched a model locomotive, actually cried, he said that as a boy, he heard the huge noise of a train every day, but that untill now, he had been unable to know what the form of the object was! In the North East corner of the room stands a big rocket, almost two meters high, 这是两枚长征火箭的模型,也是一位有心人捐赠的。火箭完全按照真实比例制作,it is very realistic, and there are many details that I saw there for the fist time!



“Mind cinema” has already built a reputation, newspapers, television and other media often tell about its story, 各种荣誉和证书体现了社会对他们的肯定。就连联合国秘书长潘基文的夫人也曾专门到这个小院里来参观,并为盲人留下了她的祝福。虽然经济依旧紧张,但如今这里发生的一切已经让大伟夫妇很满足。Every weel-end, in this quaint little courtyard, you can see a smiling face: a pleased smile on the face of the blind, a sincere smile on the volunteers’ face, and a comforting smile on David’s face.

When I get out the front door of “Mind Cinema”, and look again at the quaint little buildings, 曾经的沧桑之感又有增添了新发现。Shou Ming temple is already part of history, 它遗留给后人的除去那件稀世藏品以外,也只有一栋栋旧房子,可谓“形”在“神”散。而当“心目影院”入驻这里之后,创办者大伟夫妇二人所做的这桩功德事业,似乎在有意无意中又重新将这“神”聚起,将这种善举发扬光大。虽然只是在这一方偏殿,也许纯粹是无心的巧合,可是这巧合真的让人温暖,令人感动。

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French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact [email protected]