The film unfortunately did not win anything at Tokyo which makes me extremely sad. This makes the film less marketable, and everyone involved less marketable, and that would be just a shame because I don’t recall the last time I became so interested in a film simply from reading a synopsis, watching the trailer, and watching the interviews from the lovely cast and crew.
The film tells the story of an intelligent girl, Shen Xingchen (Liu Dong ) as she goes from age 16 in high school to work at age 30, from 1993 to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the most rapid times in China’s development. Throughout, the theme is an idea of is there anything everlasting in this world? Is there everlasting love? This is the question that Shen faces, along with her love, childhood friend Ming Yuan (Huang Ming). Both are scarred emotionally from the devastating ways their parents’ relationships ended and wonder whether love is worth it if eventually, it simply doesn’t last.
At first I just wanted to see this because of Huang Ming, but after watching the trailer (seriously, watch it) and reading about it, it looks so amazing, from the story to the art direction.
First, thanks to A Nutshell Review Blog, who provided the first review of this film, tons of videos from all three question sessions with the cast and crew, and assuring me finally that the film doesn’t suck, even though Sina’s been filled with positive reports about the award possibilities of this particular film.
The film portrayed something I really wanted to see in film, : this grappling with changing, modernizing China, and through the eyes of a post-80s director who lived in that time. It touches on many issues, such as iconic actor and cantopop singer Leslie Cheung’s suicide, and and the SARS epidemic of 2003, which they portrayed as accurately as possible. And underneath it all, it’s about true love, and if it exists. The question is what the film poses to the audience. All of these things make it seem like a film exactly made for me, for any young Chinese really, or for that matter, anybody who wonders if anything good can last.
There’s been an overwhelming number of good films coming out of the Greater China region recently from first-time directors, such as Crazy Stone, One Night in Supermarket, Parking, The Equation of Love and Death, two of which, like Heaven Eternal, Earth Everlasting, were also scripted by the directors, and it’s gotten me very excited about the possibilities. This one seems by far the most beautiful and elegant though.
Some more pretty stills. Almost 95% of the film was shot in the gorgeous city of Hanzhou.
One last thing about the film that left an impression on me (without actually watching it of course) was the director, Li Fangfang from the interviews at TIFF. She seems so intelligent, and so well spoken, in mandarin and accented English. Huang Ming said that she would joke easily when they weren’t working, but when she was working, no one dared to joke with her because her focus on what she was doing was so great.
That intensity and ability showed during the question and answer sections at TIFF where she answered with all the grace of someone who had directed more than one film. First she was asked why the film was so beautiful, the place so beautiful, that it’s not really like a Chinese film, and she answered very succinctly, that for her generation, and the generation of her actors, it portrays their China. It’s how China is now. And it’s true…with each decade brings a group of Chinese that have experienced a different China. Zhang Yimou spent his youth in the countryside and that’s his love and the object of his lens, but for the burgeoning generation of directors, they see China in a different way. Huang Ming also stated that once you see the film you would know it was made by a born in the 80s director.
I also liked how at one point when she talked about the Leslie Cheung song featured in the film, she mentioned that it was a Japanese composer that composed the song, and actually stated the name of the composer of the song, making the woman taking notes behind her nod in recognition. It was a great way to bring the audience at Tokyo something to relate to in a film very much about China, and to offer them a sign of appreciation for their culture.
Then someone asked the question, “Is kissing allowed in Chinese films?” (because there weren’t in her film) she gave a surprised “Yes, of course, even in the ancient films you see kissing” and stated that she just felt there were so many better ways to convey the powerful love between the two characters, which she again repeated. I liked her answer, but I mostly just wanted to point out with that how mind-boggling unaware of other cultures people can be. Hopefully the new crop of Chinese directors can help change that somewhat.
There’s so many things I liked about the way she answered questions in the interview, the rest I will not list here because of time constraints, and I really hope to see more work from her. She says her next film will be a collaboration with Japan
Even though they didn’t win anything, here are some pics of the cast and crew at the ceremony though. They’re almost all newbies in their fields so everyone was still just very excited to be there.
You guys are too cute. Please don’t go back to being unknowns. Although apparently a Japanese fan of Huang Ming went all the way from Osaka to Tokyo to see him so perhaps Huang Ming isn’t as unknown as I thought, but still. It’d be nice if at least one actor I liked got famous. At least this movie has a chance to do well at the box office when it hits theaters in China next year.