Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing, China. It’s estimated that between 500,000 and 1.5 million people gathered on June 4, 1989 as part of the student-led protest against the government. They called for democracy and freedom of speech. However, actions from the Chinese military led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.
American Pat Keeton was in the crowd and managed to make a VHS tape of her experience. She followed literature professor Peter Scheckner as he interviews protesters about the Chinese government. We included it in the pilot episode of the PBS series, THE 90’s, but it wasn’t shown on TV anywhere else in the US or China. One demonstrator said, “I hope you can tell the world that the Chinese government is very, very bad. They have already lost the people’s support. They are not the ‘People’s Government.’ They are very cruel. Very cruel.” This video is a testament to the importance of independent filmmaking to document history and present it to a wider audience.