Film screening highlights UNC alum who spent 35 years in Communist China
Monday, September 17, 2012
Sidney Rittenberg spent 16 years in solitary confinement in a Chinese jail, imprisoned twice by the Communists on charges of being an American spy.
Now the exciting life of this 1941 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been made into the documentary film, “The Revolutionary.” A free public screening of the movie will be held at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Varsity Theater on Franklin Street. Rittenberg and the filmmakers will attend and discuss the film, which focuses on the 35 years Rittenberg spent in China and his close role with all the top leaders of the Communist Party.
The screening is also part of a UNC “Adventures in Ideas” seminar, “China Since 1949,” hosted by the Program in the Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences and co-sponsored by the Ackland Art Museum, with support from the department of history, the Center for Global Initiatives and the Carolina Asia Center.
Rittenberg went to China in 1945 as a Chinese linguist and interpreter with the U. S. Army. After the war, he linked up with the Chinese Communists and remained in China for 35 years, working as an English language specialist for New China News Agency and Radio Beijing.
When Rittenberg returned to the United States for a brief visit in 1979, he came to UNC for the first time in 40 years to give a talk on U.S.-China relations. The next year, he and his Chinese wife and their four children moved back to America on a permanent basis. For five years, from 1994 to 1998, Rittenberg was a visiting professor of history at UNC, teaching courses on the Chinese revolution and his own personal experiences in China. Over the years, he has returned to the Program in the Humanities for seminars.
He now lives near Seattle, has established a consulting firm that helps major American corporations do business with China, and also is a visiting professor of Chinese Studies at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma.
College of Arts and Sciences contact: Kim Spurr, (919) 962-4093,