ChinaFest is an annual Richmond city and University tradition that offers discussion, film, and other cultural resources to promote better understanding between the peoples of China and the United States. The University of Richmond and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) partner with The Rose Group for Cross-Cultural Understanding on programming. This year’s programming includes the annual Irby B. Brown lecture, three streaming films, and student contributions about their lives in China.

2021 ChinaFest Archive


"The U.S. and China in a Changing World: Problems and Prospects"

Susan ThorntonNamed in honor of the late University of Richmond professor of English and stalwart ChinaFest partner with Rose Chen, the annual Irby B. Brown Lecture features thought leaders on China who serve as keynote speakers to launch each ChinaFest. This year's speaker is retired senior diplomat Susan Thornton. Over the span of thirty years, Ms. Thornton has been involved in policy making and has held leadership positions across China, Korea, and the former Soviet Union to name just a few. Ms. Thornton received her MA in International Relations from Johns Hopkins SAIS, and BA in Economics and Russian from Bowdoin College. She is currently the Senior Fellow and Visiting Lecturer in Law at the Yale University Law School Paul Tsai China Center, Director of the Forum on Asia-Pacific Security at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

While the world struggles to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic dislocation and climate change, the U.S. and China appear to be locked in a zero-sum contest over Asian security, economic prowess, innovative technology and talent, leadership on the global stage, ideology, human rights and more. Can these two giants find a way to manage their differences so they can work together on pressing problems, or will changing power dynamics and mutual suspicions lead us down a path to confrontation and even conflict? Join us as we explore U.S. relations with China, the problems they present and the prospects for future progress.

Ms. Thornton's lecture is followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Dan Chen (Assistant Professor of Political Science) and Dr. Stephen Long (Associate Professor of Political Science and Global Studies), and includes a student Q&A session.

Dan ChenStephen Long

Co-presented with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.


The Hometowns Project

This year, five UR students from China volunteered to make short videos introducing their hometowns. However, with travel restrictions brought on by the pandemic, only one student was able to complete the project.

Cisco ChenngCome along with Cisco Cheng, '24 as he gives viewers an inside look at his hometown.


Coordinated by the UR Chinese Students & Scholars Association: Yixuan Zhao, President.

Highlights from the CSSA Lunar New Year Gala
  • IMG_7555
  • IMG_7577
  • IMG_7576
  • IMG_7575
  • IMG_7574
  • IMG_7571
  • IMG_7570
  • IMG_7569
  • IMG_7568
  • IMG_7567
  • IMG_7566
  • IMG_0177


Ready, set, Go

First-year University of Richmond student Silvia Chen has been playing Go as long as she can remember.

“My dad showed me the pieces when I was only a month old,” she said, “and I’ve been playing ever since.”

Chen attended school in China specifically to train in Go from when she was 2 until she was 15. Go is an ancient Chinese boardgame, played with two opponents, who each have... (continue reading)


Feature Films & Documentaries

Each year, ChinaFest offers a variety of Chinese films, both classic and contemporary. This year the film selections are available for online streaming at your convenience from February 2-8, 2022:



Dir. Jessica Kingdon, USA, 2021, 97 min.

Factory workers diligently parsing fabrics and preparing plastic products; men welding metal cylinders with precision; a networking conference training women to excel in business etiquette. These and many other vignettes are the central focus of this award-winning documentary – an exploration of contemporary China where workers strive for the “Chinese Dream” amid a culture that prioritizes productivity and innovation above all else. Watch the trailer.

Streaming extended through February 10!

*Nominated for the 2022 Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary!

Please Vote for Me

Please Vote for Me

Dir. Weijun Chen, China, 2020, 52 min.

For the first time ever, the third-grade students at Evergreen Primary School in Wuhan have been asked to elect a class monitor. Three candidates are selected and they must prove their worthiness of office through talent, debate, speech, and – less formally –schoolyard coercion tactics. At times humorous and also intense, the candidates feel and react to the pressure of politics. Viewers are left to decide if this micro experiment in democracy has been successful and what it might mean for democracy in China. Watch the trailer.

Streaming February 2-8

Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue

Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue

Dir. Jia Zhang-Ke, China, 2020, 112 min.

This indispensable account of a changing China from one of the country’s foremost cinematic storytellers features the lived experiences of three prominent Chinese authors—Jia Pingwa, Yu Hua, and Liang Hong. All from the same Shanxi province, their stories document the dire circumstances faced in their rural villages and small towns, and the substantial political effort undertaken to address them. Their accounts span the social revolution of the 1950s through the unrest of the late 1980s, yet in their faces we see full volumes left unsaid. Watch the trailer.

Streaming extended through February 10!


Insights into Ascension

In a recent Vogue article, director Jessica Kingdon discusses her work on Ascension and how she captures individual humanity at work in a culture defined by mass production and productivity.



The Rose Group for Cross-Cultural Understanding
Scrolling Down the Creative Paths
About ChinaFest


The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA)
ChinaFest Family Day