During her visit this week to southern California that included lunch with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Gov. Jerry Brown, Vice-Chairman of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Bu Xiaolin made a final stop at Forbidden City restaurant in Long Beach for a dinner to celebrate a signing deal for a feature film about Genghis Khan, the 13th-Century leader of the Mongol Empire.
(Bu Xiaolin denied an interview request by the Signal Tribune, despite the newspaper’s being invited to the dinner. Her interpreter indicated that the visit was intended as a low-profile trip and that she was not participating in interviews at that time.)
Hosting the dinner was Michael Brausen, Forbidden City owner and international marketing director for the China-US Business Summit, an organization whose west-coast headquarters are located at One World Trade Center in Long Beach and whose mission is to build a platform for communication and cooperation between small and medium-sized enterprises in China and the US. Brausen coordinated the event with his business partner, Gao Yan.
“Ge Jian from the Shi Qi Group, LTD. of Inner Mongolia and Gao Yan and I have been collaborating on the film for eight years,” Brausen said. “We have been to Inner Mongolia eight times, and Ge Jian has been here five times, all for the cause of working on the project Genghis Khan, the feature film. The celebration dinner was to commemorate the signing of the contract between the US and China to co-produce the film.”
Brausen said that, in their eight trips to Inner Mongolia, he and Gao Yan have studied with more than 600 scholars, historians and professors on the life of Genghis Khan, and he has rather high expectations for the success of the film. “[Considering] the size of China and the US, Genghis Khan could very well be the biggest-grossing film in the history of the industry,” he said.
Anthony Ditton, chief executive officer for Film Development Group, said this film will differ from others about Genghis Khan through its characterization of the Mongolian leader. “It will not be an exploitive movie about a man who was a murdering, rampaging bull,” Ditton said. “This was a man who had a heart, so when conquering a country, he would give the country back to its rulers and let them rule as they saw fit. He was an amazing humanitarian.”
The only other media outlet invited was China Central Television. Two of the network’s members, Cathy Chen and Ben Ma, who are based in Los Angeles and produce news packages about west-coast US for broadcast in China, were in attendance Monday evening.
The initial tone of the celebration was formal and reserved. Appearing on short notice, 13 of the 26 members of the Long Beach Junior Concert Band performed a welcoming fanfare for the visiting dignitary when her car arrived, and she quickly made her way into the restaurant.
Former Long Beach Mayor Beverly O’Neill made an appearance at the beginning of the event, and she was introduced to Bu Xiaolin. The two spoke for several minutes through interpretor Sai Na.
Soon thereafter, Brausen took to a microphone near the sushi bar and welcomed the crowd of about 65 people. Then Ge Jian from the Shi Qi Group, LTD. of Inner Mongolia addressed the group, extending appreciation and congratulations to all involved in the film deal.
His address, which was being translated into English on the intercom, ended with, “Let the party begin,” and the mood soon changed to a more festive one.
Platters and bowls of food were delivered to the various tables. The meal included Peking duck, a fish soup, a variety of sushi rolls, fried rice, Mongolian beef, a spicy tomato and cucumber salad, and about six other dishes. One special spirit that was served in tiny glasses, probably because of its 38-percent alcohol content, was a clear liquor from the Inner Mongolia Genghis Khan Brewery.
Thanks to a live band in Hawaiian shirts performing classic hits, including some by The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and Billy Idol, even Vice-Chairman Bu Xiaolin was persuaded to get up and join the group of party-goers who were dancing.
Also in attendance was John Goya, a candidate for the 70th Assembly District. Goya, a frequent patron of Forbidden City, said he became acquainted with partners Michael Brausen and Gao Yan through his numerous visits to their restaurant.
“I frequented the place often with clients and attended many political functions there,” Goya said. “After meeting Michael and Gao Yan, I quickly realized that these two are not just good business people but are also community activists. They are involved with bringing enterprise to Southern California and work to provide a good quality of life for our local residents.”
Part of that enterprise-building is in keeping the film industry in this region, Goya said.
“We must stop the exodus of filmmakers leaving California to produce films in Canada and on the east coast,” Goya said. “Michael and Gao Yan may have just ‘turned the tide’ for Long Beach by having the signing of this movie deal at Forbidden City. They, with others, enticed the Chinese government to bring a $100-million film to California. This is an historical event for us all.”