On May 12, 2008, a catastrophic earthquake of magnitude 8 on the Richter scale hit Sichuan Province in rural China, killing nearly 70,000 people, including 10,000 children. Immediately after the earthquake, Ming Xia, professor of political science at the College of Staten Island went to his hometown as part of a film crew for the HBO Documentary, China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province.

Click Here to read Ming Xia’s Photo Essay, shot on location in China, a preview of the TV special.

Working as producer, interviewer, translator, and travel guide, Xia worked in collaboration with award-winning producers and directors Jon Alpert, Matthew O’Neill, and Peter Kwong, a professor at Hunter College. They worked [as a crew] to capture the important events as they unfolded, as well as many moving moments in the aftermath of the earthquake. In town after town, poorly constructed school buildings crumbled, wiping out classrooms filled with students, most of them their parents’ only child. But when grieving mothers and fathers sought explanations and justice, they found their path blocked by incompetence, corruption and empty promises.

“Once we began shooting, we quickly found our focus on the heartbreaking story of the 10,000 students affected. This film captures the anguish of the parents and their struggles for justice. Since the Chinese government did not want the outside world to know what really happened, we were detained by the police as we were completing our work,” said Xia. “It was a wonderful experience to work with Emmy award winning director Jon Alpert, and I am grateful for the opportunity to help tell this important and tragic story.”

The film premieres on HBO channel on May 7 and 12, 2009, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Encore showings include May 12, 16, 18, 21 and 24. HBO2 will broadcast on May 9, 11, 19, 27, 29, and 31. Check local listings for details.

Ming Xia and Matthew O'Neill interview a mother who lost her son at Fuxin Primary School, Mianzhu.