In 1957 Robert Carl Cohen became the first American allowed to shoot film in the Republic of China. His work became part of an American television documentary, “Inside Red China.”
Now, more than a half century later, after compiling a full career as a film director and producer, Cohen has retaken the road and returned to Guangzhou and other Chinese cities to document the immense changes that have taken place in the country. He finished shooting his new documentary in October. Tentatively titled “Robert Carl Cohen’s Journey in China”, the new film will be televised in both the United States and China, according to current plans. Dates have yet to be set.
Guangzhou was one of eight cities featured in each of the two films. Cohen returned to the city, full of old memories, to shoot scenes and sites for his new look at China.
"I like today’s Guangzhou better,” Cohen told the Guangzhou Daily. He rediscovered old landmarks in the city like the Oi Kwan Hotel and Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital that survived the country’s metamorphosis and reminded him of the city’s past. But he also observed many changes, such as the gleaming new skyscrapers that lord over the once dusty banks of the Pearl River.
"I would never say the China I shot is the whole of China,” Cohen said, “but I can promise that it is the real China.”
During his visit 58 years ago, Cohen arrived in Beijing and debarked on a journey of six weeks. He traveled across eight cities from north to south, using his camera to record scenes of places like the Guangzhou’s Pearl River, Beijing Children’s Hospital, Nanjing University, West Lake in Hangzhou, the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge, and Soozhow Creek in Shanghai. Cohen helped the world get to know Guangzhou as well as China itself.
Today's Pearl River