First Run Features recently announced the world theatrical premiere of Barry Strugatz's documentary The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West, which premiered last month at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles.The Professor is the first major feature documentary about the martial art of Tai Chi and one of its greatest masters, Cheng Man-Ching, the man who brought the Chinese practice to the U.S. during the turbulent 1960s.
Professor Cheng Man-Ching (1901-1975) is considered one of the greatest Tai Chi masters of modern times. This documentary tells the story of the man who overcame cultural divides to bring ancient traditions to the Western world, in the process teaching Westerners how to seek an ethical, open-minded and joyful way of life with Tai Chi - not only as a martial art, but also as a spiritual practice and form of mindful exercise.
Part of a centuries-old Chinese lineage, Tai Chi is an ancient form of exercise originally created as a fighting art. Known as the "Supreme Ultimate" martial art, it is deeply rooted in classic Chinese culture and philosophy, combining mental concentration with slow, controlled movements to focus the mind, challenge the body, and improve the flow of "chi" - the life energy thought to sustain health and quiet the mind.
Filmmaker Barry Strugatz is the director and co-producer and has made award winning short and feature films. He has written screenplays for Jonathan Demme and Michele Pfeiffer (Married to the Mob), Meryl Streep (She-Devil) and directed Melissa Leo (From Other Worlds). The Professor is his first documentary. He has studied with several students of Cheng Man-Ching. is a student of Tai Chi and became aware that the legacy of Cheng Man-Ching as a transformational figure was in danger of being lost. Beginning in 2002, Strugatz began to interview family, students and teachers, who reveal how the Professor changed their lives and the continuing role that Tai Chi plays in their lives. Also included is vintage footage of New York's Chinatown in the 1960s.
The DVD will be available in July. For more information, visit www.firstrunfeatures.com.