Local film-makers have exotic experiences in their repertoire

By Grant Miller

Venice, Rome, Moscow, the Great Wall of China, DeKalb. These are just some of the exotic lands two local film-makers are familiar with.

DeKalb residents Raphael and Jocelyn Green spent four years working on their film, “Trekking the China Silk Road,” which documents their journey from Venice, Italy, all the way through China, similar to the route explored by Marco Polo. The film will be shown at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 26 in Cole Hall.

“We’ve had a long acquaintance with China,” Mrs. Green said. The couple have traveled to the country six times since 1946, when Mr. Green went there on a diplomatic mission with Ambassador Pauly.

“He (Raphael Green) went there to work on war reparations with the U.S.,” she said.

The “Silk Road” was used as the main trade route for 4,000 years between the Mediterranean and China. Along its extensive route, the Road winds through soaring mountains, lush plains and burning deserts.

The film begins in what was the heart of the Roman Empire and then moves to central Asia through Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, as well as going into what was the Soviet Union and then into China.

Some of the Greens’ most interesting experiences occurred while they were in the China portion of their trip. “We visited a small village of about 250 people, all of wom were living in caves,” Mrs. Green said. “We spent the day with a family and they fed us our meals. Then, after the meal, we went out to a field and had fresh watermelon.”

Everyone living within the farming village lived in sandstone caves. The temperature outside was 90 degrees, but within the caves it was only a balmy 75 degrees.

In China, the lifestyle varies greatly from urban areas to the farming villages. “China has laws permitting only one child per family, but in the farming villages this is disregarded, as children are seen as assets,” Mr. Green said. “The wealthy in China live similar to Americans, except they can’t use much electricity; with a population of one billion people, you can see why.”

The couple left China just prior to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. “We were surprised about the uprising, although trouble was brewing,” Jocelyn said. “We made good friends in China who gave us various stories as to what was happening.”

For the past four summers Mr. Green also has been working on a new film in Russia. Because of the time he has spent there, he has gotten to see some of history in the making.

“I left just days before the coup. There were many demonstrations and protests in the streets,” he said. “Shortly thereafter, Gorbachev was demoted.”

With so many years of travel under their belt, the Greens have some advice for people planning large trips like theirs. “Take a great deal of love, patience and money.”