Letters: Film Review, Chinese Tourists

Listeners respond to a review of the film Standard Operating Procedure an weigh in on coverage of Chinese tourists in California and the musical history of China's Dong people.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Time now for some of your e-mail about Friday's program.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And first, a clarification. We aired a review of a new documentary called "Standard Operating Procedure". In it, filmmaker Errol Morris examines abuses at Abu Ghraib - it's the Iraqi prison made famous by photos of U.S. guards posing with detainees.

Here's part of our review by critic Bob Mondello.

(Soundbite of movie, "Standard Operating Procedure")

Unidentified Woman: (As character) There was no electricity going through the wires. And to say, hey, if you fall off, you're going to be electrocuted - I mean, that would keep anybody awake. So, it was part of the sleep plan.

BOB MONDELLO: As you can hear from the scoring, there's a lot of, let's say, art to what director Errol Morris is doing when he wants you to notice a knee in the corner of a photo and realize someone else was there. Trust me, you're going to notice it.

NORRIS: Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Errol Morris paid some of the people he interviews in the film. Well, that's not unheard of, paying sources for interviews is not, shall we say, standard operating procedure, it's also counter to NPR's own policy. Bob Mondello tells us that had he known about the payments on Friday, he would have mentioned them in his review.

SIEGEL: And a correction from Friday. We aired a story about how California is hoping to benefit from a boom in Chinese tourism, the U.S. government is losing in travel restrictions. And our reporters said the Burbank's Universal Studios have just hired two Chinese translators to give studio tours in Mandarin.

NORRIS: You missed identified the location of the Universal Studio tour, writes Michael Holland(ph) of Altadena, California. Although the Burbank's city fathers would love to take credit, it's actually based in Universal City, California. The founder of Universal Pictures, Carl Laemmle, bought the 230 acre ranch in 1914 and opened the gates of Universal City a year later.

(Soundbite of chanting)

SIEGEL: Finally, to my conversation with writer Amy Tan about a community of the Dong people living in southwest China. For this village, songs take the place of written words.

NORRIS: As I listened to the story, I was mesmerized by the sounds of the Dong people, writes Tim Rice(ph) of Camden, Illinois. Miss Tan talked about an older woman who is probably the last who knew the whole song of the history of the village. I have to say a wave of sadness came over me at the thought of losing such a treasure. The song should be preserved for future generations, for those who may someday take interest in learning and practicing this treasures.

(Soundbite of chanting)

SIEGEL: We'd like to preserve of your thoughts on our program. You can write to us at npr.org/contact.

(Soundbite of chanting)

NORRIS: This is NPR, National Public Radio.

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