Revered in China for meticulously recording the political climate of the 1930s, at her death in 1997, eighty-nine-year-old Helen Foster Snow was memorialized at the Great Hall of the People. The Communist Eighth Route Army Museum in Xi’an boasts the Helen Foster Snow wing. There is a Helen Foster Snow Society in Beijing, and across China there are hospitals and schools bearing her name. An eyewitness to pivotal political changes within China, her journalistic record is a primary source on the Communist revolution of the 1930s.
Although well-known by the Chinese, many people in the West may be entirely unaware of this historical legacy. How she came to be there and how her life was affected is the topic of Helen Foster Snow: Witness to Revolution, a film scheduled to be premiered 26–27 October at the Helen Foster Snow Symposium on Brigham Young University’s campus.
“I didn’t know who Helen Foster Snow was. I knew the name Edgar Snow, and I could assume, but I didn’t know her. I had to be educated,” revealed Dodge Billingsley, producer and director of the film. He began to read, and although he did not have a China-area specialty, associate producer Eric Hyer did. Hyer, associate professor of political science at BYU, and Billingsley both attended Columbia University in New York in the 1980s; though they attended the same ward, they did not know each other well. Time and circumstances reunited them.