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The Family Table

The Family Table - Image Produced by Sue Yung Li.
29 min. Color. 1984.
Available as: VHS and DVD
Captioned: No
Catalog #: 0123
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Sale Price: $195.00 Buy VHS Buy DVD

The contrasting lives of two families -- a traditional four-generation rural family in a Sichuan village and a modern, single-child family in urban Hangzhou -- are viewed through the routines of their daily meals. In the process, the film illustrates how the Chinese family has endured and how it is changing.

This is the third film in the classic four-part series, "A Taste of China," which remains perhaps the best introduction for Westerners to traditional Chinese culture.

In Sichuan, the four generations of the Za family work, cook, and eat together. Attention is focused on the 84-year-old patriarch of the family and his young great-grandson. At the Xu household in Hangzhou, however, the pressures of modern life have affected the attitudes and structure of the family. While his wife works in a nearby factory, Mr. Xu shops in a "free market" and prepares a fast meal for the family.

Interspersed with views of the two families are scenes in which a traditional itinerant storyteller evokes the ancient rhythm of agrarian life and contemporary urban sequences that suggest new patterns of living.


"The series... is not, strictly speaking, about food, although food plays a great part in it. Rather, it is about the influences of geography and food supplies on China's culture and development. But that is not to say that Chinese-food enthusiasts will not find food to start the taste buds quivering. A Taste of China is scrumptious viewing for food fanciers and China watchers alike." -- The Christian Science Monitor


  • National Educational Film Festival Gold Apple Award
  • CINE Golden Eagle Award
  • Booklist Annual Award of Merit
  • Margaret Mead Film Festival honoree
  • American Anthropological Assn. honoree
  • Asia Foundation honoree
  • PBS National Broadcasts
  • Selected for screening at more than 15 film festivals worldwide


Produced by Sue Yung Li.
Directed by Michael Lerner.



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