Julie Mallozzi, a filmmaking student at Harvard's Carpenter Center, grew up in Ohio, the daughter of an Italian-American father and a first-generation Chinese mother. Her mother's parents has been stationed in Washington under the Chinese Nationalist government, and remained exiled in America after Mao Tse Tung's Communist takeover. Several years ago, Mallozzi went on a filmic journey to find her mother's relatives in China. Once Removed is Mallozzi's informal, ingratiatingly unpretentious recording of that trip, moving relative to relative. Mallozzi's family seem to share a humor and a warmth, and also a higher education (many are scientists and academics), which made them, unfortunately, open targets during Mao's Cultural Revolution. One aunt and her family were shipped to Inner Mongolia, another aunt (a lovely, now white-haired, physicist) was placed for six years in solitary confinement. Her crime? Her husband's brother had once been the lover of Jiang Quing, Mao's homicidal wife. And so it's gone in China. One dignified relative of Mallozzi's didn't even make it to be a Maoist victim: he was beaten to death by the Nationalists.
Mallozzi's next movie? I suggest a companion piece traveling to Italy and documenting her father's family, the two movies able to be shown back to back.