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Media Advisory: SF State professor to lead official 2008 Beijing Olympic film crew

Weimin Zhang will follow athletes and torch before, during and after the 2008 Beijing Olympics


SAN FRANCISCO, March 18, 2008 -- When the Olympic Torch begins its global journey to Beijing on March 25, Weimin Zhang will begin hers behind the camera.

Zhang, an assistant professor of cinema at San Francisco State University, is serving as director and cinematographer of the United States unit of the official 2008 Beijing Olympics film. She is leading one of only four teams in the world that will document the torch relay and athletes' experiences before, during and after the games. She will lead the team filming the torch when it stops in San Francisco April 9 -- the only stop in North America. "It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's an advantage to me being the United States Unit Director because I'm familiar with both China and the U.S." said Zhang, who is an award-winning documentary filmmaker.

A graduate of the prestigious Beijing Film Academy, Zhang was selected by Chinese Central Television to lead the American film team.

Since the 1930s, each Olympic host country has produced an official documentary that is permanently displayed at the Olympic Museum in Switzerland. This year's version will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the athletes and their lives. "Previously, they focused on the competition," Zhang said. "This time they're focusing on the stories before and after the Olympics and how they prepare, while emphasizing the spirit of the Olympics using the torch run as a thread bringing all of those together." The film will use the official 2008 Olympic slogan "One World, One Dream," as a theme in the production.

Zhang and her team will begin shooting footage March 25 once representatives from Beijing receive the Olympic torch in Athens. In addition to filming the torch stop in San Francisco, her work will take her to stops in San Diego, Waco, Texas, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, to record footage. Her team will follow athletes such as 2004 gold medalists Sanya Richards and Steven Lopez and profile BMX athletes who will be competing in the Olympics for the first time. Once in China, Zhang will continue to follow the U.S. athletes while also documenting preparations made by China and its citizens to host the games.

After the Olympics conclude in August, Zhang will remain in China to finish production on the official documentary and finish shooting her own documentary, "The Last Days of Beijing Hutongs," which documents the razing of centuries-old homes in Beijing to make way for modernization and Olympic development. The project is a personal one for Zhang, who grew up in the neighborhoods that were long the heart of Beijing. "People have done projects there, but few know the inside story," Zhang said "All of my memories are of the Hutongs."

For more information about Weimin Zhang's Hutong project, visit http://hutongstory.com/index.html



Note to Media: Interviews may also be arranged by contacting Michael Bruntz at (415) 338-1743 or mbruntz@sfsu.edu

About SF State: One of the largest campuses in the California State University system, SF State was founded in 1899 and today is a highly diverse, comprehensive, public urban university. SF State is the only master's-level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The University enrolls about 30,000 students each year and graduates about 7,000 annually. With nationally acclaimed programs in a range of fields -- from creative writing, cinema and ethnic studies to history, broadcast and biology -- the University's more than 140,000 graduates have contributed to the economic, cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond. For more information, please visit www.sfsu.edu



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