Panel Discussion on China’s Warring States Period through Zhang Yimou’s "Hero"


Hero Film Photo

About the Film

Set during China’s Warring States Period (475-221 BCE), Zhang Yimou’s sumptuous swordplay epic, Hero (2002), was inspired by an actual assassination attempt on the Qin Emperor. After it screens at the Park Up DC drive-in theater on October 26, learn about this fascinating period of Chinese history through its politics, art, apparel and weaponry, including swords and calligraphic inscriptions from the collection of the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art. 


About the Panelists

Tom Vick (Moderator), Curator of Film at the Freer | Sackler Galleries

Yan Weitian, Smithsonian Institution Pre-doctoral Fellow at the Freer | Sackler Galleries

Dr. Eric Schluessel, Assistant Professor of History and International Affairs (GW)

Lee Talbot, Curator at The Textile Museum (GW) and Lecturer with GW's Art History Program, specializing in Chinese textile history

Note: This event will be held in English, and is free and open to the public. Feel free to enjoy the movie prior to the event with Park Up DC or on your own. Due to limited audience capacity, we highly recommend you RSVP at your earliest convenience to guarantee your spot.


Zoom Access

Watch the Movie


Panelists' Biographies:



Tom Vick


Tom Vick is the curator of film at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Asian Art. Formerly Vick was the coordinator of film programs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He has worked as a consultant for the International Film Festival Rotterdam and served on the juries of the Korean Film Festival in Los Angeles, the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, Filmfest DC, and the Smithsonian African-American Film Festival. He has contributed essays to World Cinema Directory: Japan, Film Festival Yearbook, Asian Geographic, and other publications. He is the author of Asian Cinema: A Field Guide (2008) and Time and Place are Nonsense: The Films of Seijun Suzuki (2015)


Yan Weitian


Yan Weitian is a Smithsonian Institution Pre-doctoral Fellow at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and a PhD candidate in art history at the University of Kansas. He is currently working on a project, titled Yi Bingshou (1754-1815) and Antiquarianism in Qing China. His major field of study focuses on the art of writing in China during the 18th and 19th centuries. Beyond what is traditionally conceived as Chinese calligraphy, he studies a wide range of inscribed objects and examines how people construct relationships with the past through the action of writing.


Eric Schluessel


Dr. Eric Schluessel is Assistant Professor of History and International Affairs, History Department (GWU) and social historian of China and Central Asia, and his work focuses on Xinjiang (East Turkestan) in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Land of Strangers, his first monograph, uses local archival and manuscript sources in Chinese and Chaghatay Turkic to explore the ramifications of a project undertaken in the last decades of the Qing empire to transform Xinjiang’s Turkic-speaking Muslims into Chinese-speaking Confucians. Schluessel’s current project, Exiled Gods, delves into Han Chinese settler culture and religion to illuminate the history of a diasporic community of demobilized soldiers and their descendants that spanned the Qing empire.

Thanks to grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies, Schluessel is also completing a translation and critical edition of the Tārīkh-i Ḥamīdī of Mullah Mūsa Sayrāmī, which is an important Chaghatay-language chronicle of nineteenth-century Xinjiang. Ongoing research builds off of this and other manuscript, documentary, and memoir sources to reconstruct an economic history of Xinjiang from below.


Lee Talbot


Lee Talbot joined The Textile Museum (GW) as a Curator in 2007. He specializes in East Asian textile history. He is also a lecturer with GW’s Art History Program.

Most recently, Talbot curated the exhibition Vanishing Traditions: Textiles and Treasures from Southwest China. He was also co-curator of exhibitions including Bingata! Only in Okinawa; Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora; China: Through the Lens of John Thomson (1868–1872); and Unraveling Identity: Our Textiles, Our Stories. His publications include exhibition catalogues, articles, and the chapters on Chinese and Korean decorative arts in History of Design: Decorative Arts and Material Culture, 1400–2000.

Talbot was previously curator at the Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum in Seoul, Korea. He graduated from Rhodes College with a bachelor’s degree, and holds a MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and a master’s from Bard Graduate Center. He is completing his doctoral dissertation on Korean textiles and costume history at Bard. He serves on the board of Textile Society of America and the editorial board of Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture.


Sponsored By:

GW Confucius Institute

Freer | Sackler Galleries