It isn't the first place that comes to mind when offering a month of Sundays of Chinese movies, but Middle Tennessee State University’s Chinese Film Festival kicks off this weekend.
Among the offerings are acclaimed director Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman, and the first film from the People's Republic of China to open in a U.S. Theater — Rickshaw Boy.
The festival, which runs each Sunday night through April 18, is not so surprising considering that MTSU has officially partnered with Hangzhou Normal University and the Confucius Institute in December to promote a greater understanding of Chinese culture.
The institute and MTSU's Office of the Dean of the College of Mass Communication are presenting the films at 6 p.m. in Room 103 of the John Bragg Mass Communication Building on the Murfreesboro campus. The showings, all with English subtitles, are free and open to the public.
Following each movie, Liu Xiao, a master’s degree candidate in the College of Mass Communication, will facilitate a question-and-answer session.
The first film, slated for March 28, is Rickshaw Boy, a tale of the ugliness of a city run by dueling warlords where many of the poor turn against each other for survival.
Based on the novel by the Chinese author Lao She about the life of a fictional Beijing rickshaw driver, the film was was recognized as a milestone in Chinese cinema when it was released to international acclaim in 1982. Its director Zifeng Ling, who died in 1999, was a member of China's Third Generation [1949-78] of film makers that had to tread carefully when choosing or adapting screenplays.
Other films that follow are: Eat Drink Man Woman  on April 4; Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress  on April 11; and Getting Home  on April 18.
Eat Drink Man Woman is notable for being the first film written and directed by Lee to reach a wide American audience. The film, whose major theme is that romantic relationships give life meaning and are necessities of life (such as eating and drinking), was a critical success. In 2001, it was re-made as Tortilla Soup.
Lee is better known to moviegoers as director of 2005's Academy Award winner Brokeback Mountain. He has also done the films Sense and Sensibility , The Ice Storm , Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon , and Hulk .
Founded in 2004, the Confucius Institute is a nonprofit organization established to strengthen educational cooperation between China and other countries. For more information, call the Confucius Institute at 494-8696.