The Men Who Would Conquer China with Nick Torrens – 25 April 2005

Title: The Men Who Would Conquer China with Nick Torrens
Location: Valhalla Cinema
Description: WHAT:

Filmmaker Q&A


Valhalla Cinema


Wednesday 25 April 2005

Winner Best Documentary Film Critics Circle of Australia 2004

“A rare film… a subtle and non-polemic work which evidences a wonderfully established filmmaker-subject relationship. Rich in subtext, the documentary is sure to garner a wide range of responses from both East and West.”
Warwick Burton, INSIDE FILM

Popcorn Taxi and Ozdox are proud to present an exclusive screening of this award-winning feature length documentary about networking, money and ‘friendship’.

Filmed over three years it’s a candid, funny and ironic saga of East-West capitalism and cultural conflict where a corporate banker from New York City teams up with a successful Chinese businessman to form an ‘odd couple’…a relationship that ultimately says a lot about where the West has been and where the East is heading…

After the screening join director NICK TORRENS for an interview and audience Q&A with Sydney Morning Herald film critic PAUL BYRNES.


Mart Bakal is a millionaire New York investment banker with a mission. He’s been spreading “the benefits of globalisation” in the former Communist world since the early 1990’s. He now wants to build his profile and his fortune in the biggest market of all – China. But he needs a “cultural interpreter”, so he teams up with the charismatic Vincent Lee, a successful Hong Kong entrepreneur.

But with Vincent on-board and with billions of dollars to invest, Mart finds China slow to respond to his offers, his needs and his methods.

We follow the two men through 3 years of their quest – through Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Harbin, Hong Kong and New York. Their relationship becomes the fulcrum on which the film pivots.

“The odd couple” (as Vincent calls them) is very funny. But the tensions between them are growing, driven by different priorities and cultural perspectives.

This intimate and ironic feature documentary compares the values & motivations of the North American and the Chinese locked together by perceived mutual advantage, in a struggle crucial to the future of each.

As the men draw closer to their objective, we ponder the impact of Capitalism on China – and on us all.


NICK TORRENS is an independent Australian filmmaker whose work over 25 years observes the intimate lives of ordinary and extraordinary people, and the forces which shape them. His view derives from a lifelong fascination with the politics of people’s lives. The films look beyond the familiar to reveal the dramatic, unexpected worlds in which his characters dwell.

These include: Vis a vis: Techno Tribal; Best Documentary Feature, DownUnder International Film Festival 2004, Best Documentary finalist, Montreal Presence Autochtone 2004, Planet IndigenUS Toronto 2004, Sydney Indigenous Arts Festival 2004, SBS network and international release; Running from the Ghost, an observational parable: how British colonial perspectives controlled the lives of Hong Kong people; To Get Rich is Glorious, the second in a long-term series documenting the lives of Hong Kong people: a wealthy Chinese entrepreneur and his partner, a New York investment banker, try to make the most of their new world order – following Hong Kong’s return to a capitalist China.

IDFA Amsterdam, Sydney, Auckland, Wellington Film Festivals; ABC & international television; Me Depressed? Don’t Make Me Laugh!, An investigation into depressive illness, featuring Spike Milligan & others who reveal their own histories & the strategies which have helped them survive and The Men Who Would Conquer China – Winner Best Documentary Film Critics Circle of Australia 2004, Best Editing Australian Film Institute Award 2004. Best Documentary Dendy Awards nomination 2005, Sydney Film Festival 2004, Chicago International Documentary Festival, Shanghai TV Festival, Tri-Continental Film Festival, New Zealand Film Festivals, ABC and international television.

Nick has also played a consistent role in the Australian film and television industry – chairing industry panels and forums, conducting documentary seminar programs, designing & directing courses for the Australian Film, Television & Radio School, developing and assessing projects for federal and state film agencies, preparing submissions and reviews for the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, tutoring and consulting for film students and young filmmakers, and working to enhance the profile and sense of community among documentary practitioners.

He was a committee member of both the First and Second Australian International Documentary Conferences, and was National Chair of the Second – held in 1991 at the Australian National University in Canberra.

In 98-99 Nick was Documentary Consultant for the SBS television network, and has since conducted many seminar and filmmaker development programs for the South Australian Film Corporation, the Pacific Film and Television Commission and the Queensland Documentary Association, in addition to his on-going film production.

He is currently developing a number of projects including the next chapter in his long-term China series.
Date: 2005-04-25