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Friday, June 03, 2005

Israel Epstein, Prominent Chinese Communist, Dies at 90
As reported in the New York Times, Israel Epstein, a journalist, author and propagandist for China whose passion for Communism was fueled in long interviews with Mao in the 1940's and was not dimmed by imprisonment during the Cultural Revolution, died last Thursday at a hospital in Beijing. He was 90.

Epstein was the best friend of filmmaker Ron Levaco's father. Levaco was born in China of Russian Jewish parents, but his family fled 1949, as did most Westerners, as the revolution spread. Forty-five years later, Levaco returns to China to discover what happened to Epstein, his father's best friend. The First Rum/Icarus Films release ROUND EYES IN THE MIDDLE KINGDOM is Levaco's attempt to understand the motivations behind Epstein's actions: why he joined Mao's communist revolution which forced most foreigners to leave; why he has chosen to remain in China after being subjected to solitary confinement during the 1970s; why he elected to become a Chinese citizen. The film also documents what kind of life he has made for himself as China's leading foreign journalist.

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