Private Project

Anshan Diaries

Anshan Diaries uses a real family’s life as its backdrop. Director Charles Dong casts his grandpa, the revolutionaries of the left wing, as the film’s lead, investigating and retracing his family saga spanning three decades of Chinese post-cultural revolution history.

  • Charles Xiuzhi Dong
    After Class, Last Days in Chinatown, Cookie Heart
  • Charles Xiuzhi Dong
    After Class, Last Days in Chinatown, Cookie Heart
  • Branton Choi
    After Class, Last Days in Chinatown, Cookie Heart
  • Charles Xiuzhi Dong
    After Class, Last Days in Chinatown, Cookie Heart
  • Jiaxiang Dong
    Key Cast
  • Andi Wang
    Key Cast
  • Suwen Dong
    Key Cast
    "Oldest Aunt"
  • Sujie Dong
    Key Cast
    "Second Aunt"
  • Sujun Dong
    Key Cast
    "Third Aunt"
  • Sujie Dong
    Key Cast
    "Fourth Aunt"
  • Shuwu Dong
    Key Cast
  • Xiaobing Dong
    Key Cast
    "Youngest Aunt"
  • Charles Xiuzhi Dong
    After Class, Last Days in Chinatown, Cookie Heart
  • Bowei Yue
    Americanized, Balloon, Sword of Destiny, A Woman of No Importance, Wild Seed
  • Charles Xiuzhi Dong
    After Class, Last Days in Chinatown, Cookie Heart
  • Alex Symcox
    Wonder, Explained, The Pointe
  • Biwan Cai
    Sound Designer
  • Dongwei Di
    Visual Effects Supervisor
  • Chen Lu
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Family, Drama, History, Romantic, Short
  • Runtime:
    27 minutes 50 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 10, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    15,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - New York University, Tisch School of the Arts
  • The 48th annual Student Academy Awards
    Los Angeles
    United States
    Finalists for the 48th annual Student Academy Awards
  • The 58th Golden Horse Awards
    Finalists for Best Documentary Short
  • The 65th San Francisco International Film Festival
    San Francisco
    United States
    April 27, 2022
    North America Premiere
  • Doc Edge Festival 2022
    New Zealand
    June 15, 2022
    New Zealand Premiere
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Charles Xiuzhi Dong

Charles Xiuzhi Dong is an award-winning director, based in Los Angeles. He received his BFA in Film & TV Production at the New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. His short films screened at numerous film festivals. Namely, After Class (2020): Santa Barbara, Oberhausen, and Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia: winning Best Short Award. His latest documentary film, Anshan Diaries (2021) was in the finalists for the 48th annual Student Academy Awards and the 58th Golden Horse Awards.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

As the grandson of the subjects, I felt an innate responsibility to make this film. When I recorded the first shot, which incidentally is the beginning of the film, the thought of making this into a film never crossed my mind. A year later, I got bored and looked over the hours of random footage I shot at my grandparent’s home. It moved me to tears. It was then that I decided I could make this into a film, forming a storyline that would tell my grandparent’s story, from their poor upbringings to their glory days to their eventual downfall. I see light in their eyes every time they talk about the past.
As a divorced child at 10, I moved in with my grandparents as they took care of me in my early adolescent years. To a great extent, I see my grandparents just like my parents. They showered me with love and care, treating me like their own son although I was a troubled kid. In school, my grades were terrible. I was constantly ranked second to last among my class. Everyone judged me, including my parents, but not my grandparents. They were the only ones who did not shed an inch of judgement towards my weakness. They never criticized me, and instead encouraged me to do better.
Fast forward 12 years later, I’m sitting at my desk in New York looking over this footage. All I could think in my mind is how much I loved my grandparents and how much I appreciate how they made who I am today. As a self-proclaimed Anshan native, my cultural identity has been long lost in translation. My parent’s urban flight to Shenzhen, away from the desolate steel town that is Anshan, left me curious about my ancestry: how my grandparents think and feel as influenced by their geography. As their grandson, my access to their most intimate shelves allows me to retrace their past along with the audience; hoping to reconnect with them as my father never did.
Born in the 90s, my frivolous upbringing pales in comparison to what my grandparents lived through during the Cultural Revolution. To be frank, I am too young and dumb to understand, which is why I refuse to state any political views-- as that would be irresponsible. All I could do is to show them the love and intimacy of my grandparents that carried them through six decades of marriage. That is the only tangible thing I can document. Along the way, I hope thousands of people who watch this film can be reminded of their own unique family history.