Mahjong and Chicken Feet

China/Canada 2008, Documentary, 47' | Director, Realization Jacqueline Levitin

A group of men in a variety store in Harbin, China, candidly discuss a foreigner with a camera amongst them, assuming she doesn't understand Chinese and forgetting her camera is recording. Later in Kaifeng, miles to the south, the woman noses her camera into people's homes, searching for traces of the city's 1000-year-old Jewish settlement.

The parents and grandparents of filmmaker Jacqueline Levitin emigrated to America from Harbin, Manchuria, and she has now returned to China to seek out traces of her family's past. Out of reach of the Czar's pogroms, the vibrant Russian Jewish community - of which the family had been a part - thrived in Manchuria.

A cultured, European-leaning community, these 20th century Jews were unaware of another Chinese Jewish community that long preceded them - the 1,000-year-old community of Kaifeng in the heart of ancient imperial China.


JACQUELINE LEVITIN is a filmmaker, media artist and film historian. Her films and videos range from short experimental works to documentary and fiction features and, recently, to live video collaborations with dancers and theatre performers. Jacqueline Levitin is the co-editor of "Women Filmmakers: Refocusing", a collection of new writing by women film-makers, critics and theorists. She completed her doctorate in film at the "University of Buffalo" and teaches film and media studies at the "School for Contemporary Arts" and in the "Women's Studies Department" at the "Simon Fraser University" in Vancouver.

Jaqueline Levitin
China, Canada
Focus: China