Once Removed is the story of a young woman who travels to China to meet her mother’s relatives for the first time, and discovers a family history that encompasses political persecution, imprisonment, and murder. Born in the Midwest to an Italian father and a Chinese mother, Julie Mallozzi has always been fascinated by her Chinese heritage, but has had little understanding or connection to it. Triggered by a chance encounter with an uncle that she’s never known of, Julie decides to explore her family’s past by visiting her relatives in China. Combining historical footage with stories from her relatives’ lives, Once Removedis an intriguing investigation into a family history that’s inextricably linked with China’s tumultuous past.
Julie’s first visit is to her great-uncle Wang Shou-Jue, a scientist who pioneered the development of the computer chip in China. He relates to her, first-hand, the dramatic events that led to the Cultural Revolution. In her family’s hometown of Suzhou, she spends the day with her aunt, Fei Shi-Cheng, and hears of her aunt’s father’s persecution at the hands of the Communist Party.However, it is through conversations with relatives and family friends, that she learns of the mystery surrounding the political murder of her grandmother’s brother, Fei Gong. A political science professor and outspoken proponent of democracy, Fei Gong was kidnapped and murdered by the Chinese Nationalists. Later declared a martyr by the Communists, his story became immortalized as a paradigm of the Chinese revolutionary hero. But the further Julie investigates, the more she discovers discrepancies in the varying accounts, and soon realizes the tangled web between history, memory, and propaganda. Weaving together the filmmaker’s own dreams and observations, with the stories and memories of her relatives, Once Removed contemplates the difficulty of stepping back into one’s past, while recognizing the importance of remembering the people who make up a nation’s history.
Julie Mallozzi is an independent documentary filmmaker whose work explores the fluidity of cultural identity and historical memory. Her films have won awards at festivals around the world and have screened in museums, universities, and on public television. Julie’s debut film Once Removed tells the story of meeting her mother’s family in China and learning about their involvement in China’s complicated political history. Her recent film Monkey Dance reveals how traditional Cambodian dance helped three Cambodian-American teens navigate the minefields of urban adolescence. She is now completing Indelible Lalita, the story of a resilient woman whose body has been remarkably transformed through loss of skin pigment, cancer, and other conditions. Julie received her BA from Harvard University and her MFA from San Francisco Art Institute. She has taught at Harvard University, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Boston University.