‘Writing Bethune’ (working title) is the untold and international story of the renowned Canadian doctor Norman Bethune.
As a surgeon, medical innovator, and political activist Norman Bethune participated in three wars in his attempt to change the world. He was a stretcher-bearer in the First World War; created a mobile blood transfusion unit in the Spanish Civil War; and assisted the Chinese Communist Eighth Route Army in the Anti-Japanese war where he finally died of blood poisoning in 1939.
‘Writing Bethune’ follows Canadian filmmaker Jordan Paterson as he traces Bethune’s footsteps in Canada, United States, Russia, Spain, and China where he became a symbol of ‘selfless spirit’ for the Chinese people and the most famous foreigner in Chinese history.
Through interviews with descendants, artists, writers, politicians and historians Paterson attempts to both uncover Bethune’s astonishing life story as well as deconstruct how we perceive the legacy and character of Bethune today. The documentary also looks at the mutual impact of the lives and cultures he visited in times of war, and how we write his story in relation to major chapters of 20th century history.
By allowing the local people in each country to explain the historical context, profound stakes, and their personal relationship to Bethune, we gain a more complete picture of the sacrifices, values and history of these people and the character of Dr. Norman Bethune as developed in these contexts.
The project is slated for release in 2019 on the 80th anniversary of Bethune’s death.