Dai Sijie was born in Chengdu, Sichuan in 1954. After being sent to a re-education camp himself in the early 1970s, Sijie left for France to pursue filmmaking. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress was first published in 2000 in France, and is now sold in over nineteen countries.
The Cultural Revolution
August 13, 1966 — Mao Zedong announces the Cultural Revolution, or the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution.
The Cultural Revolution aimed to modernize China’s agricultural and industrial economies while eliminating bourgeoisie culture. Colleges were shut down, adolescents were sent to rural villages for re-education, and all non-Communist and Western influences were destroyed. The Red Guards – often high school and college students – utilized violence and intimidation to enforce Mao’s anti-elitist policies that led to millions of deaths throughout the countryside and in prisons. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is often criticized for its fantastical portrayal of the Cultural Revolution.