China documentary impresses judges

Jeremy V

Jeremy Veverka Creator of “China: The Rebirth of an Empire”

By Jonathan Romero

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“People always pick up on our differences and use it as an excuse to kill each other… I seek to document that which unifies us: the human experience.”

This is a personal notion that resonated with former student, Jeremy Veverka, while he was study- ing journalism at Valencia Community College, three years ago.

Veverka would later go on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree from Cornell University and co-direct/produce an Award Winning Documentary, “China: The Rebirth of an Empire,” with his brother, Jesse.

It was during his time in that year, that he found his passion for journalism and the importance of sharing his worldly experiences with others.

“We need to understand that the world is interconnected and everything that happens, affects and impacts us. You can choose to ignore it, but it’s still going to affect you,” warns a wiser and more mature Veverka.

In 2008, he and his brother, Jesse Veverka, jumped at the opportunity to cover a story about China, a country with unprecedented economic growth which had surpassed Japan as the world’s second largest economy and is now on the verge of possibly surpassing the United States within the next 15-20 years.

The question in their minds, was: With the upcoming Beijing Olympics that year, would China make a peaceful rise to power or is it already on its way to becoming a modern empire?

Sponsored by the East Asia Program, an international studies program of Cornell University and a $50,000 budget, the brothers and a film crew set off to Asia for three months.

They shot in nine different countries, weaving such diverse issues as Islamic fundamentalism, free trade and the Pro Tibet movement.

The Veverka brothers had their world premiere for the film at the Central Florida Film Festival in Ocoee on Sept. 4, and won Best Documentary at CENFLO 2010. Audience members admitted that the film alleviated previous assumptions about the region and cleared up misconceptions about the country itself.

“It opened my eyes so much,” said Bob Cook, an Ocoee native who grew up in the 1950s.

“It looked like the Chinese care more about their people and economy as opposed to building up for war, which is what we’ve been taught that the communist nations do.”

Donna Warner, another audience member, shared Cook’s sentiments and admitted that it left her wanting more information. “I really discovered how clueless I was about what’s going on in that country,” she said.

As for the Veverka brothers, this is just the beginning of a festival circuit that includes showings in Utah, Illinois, Ohio and ending up back in New York, this October. More information can be found on their website

Veverka hopes his movie will inspire to turn off their TVs and go immerse themselves in another culture and make friends with people whom are different. The notion of peace and understanding may be more easily attained, with this broader perspective of the world and humanity.

“I hope when people see the film, people will understand that the future will be a different place, but we need to figure out how we’re all going to live together and coexist peacefully.”

Photo by: Collin Dever