Interview With Zhu Rikun: Most Filmmakers in China Don’t Care What Independent Films Are 

by Cho Jinseok

In early 2021, Chinese language filmmaker Zhu Rikun despatched me a work-in-progress copy of his exceptional documentary “No Want to Disguise” and I supplied some suggestions on the movie’s still-in-development subtitles and some components referring to its slicing. Quick ahead a couple of months and after seeing the ultimate model, the movie was mainly as I remembered it upon first viewing: an intimate portrait of the very messy love affair between two younger, fairly privileged, Chinese language folks navigating a contemporary China making an attempt to say its personal advanced ethical framework wherein its residents should conform.

Whereas the 2 youths in focus – filmmaker Wu Haohao and his accomplice Ge Ningning – might or will not be typical of lots of China’s wealthier youthful folks, Haohao is definitely an audacious presence and has his personal distinctive filmmaking backstory. Once more, full disclosure, I met Wu Haohao many years in the past in Songzhuang however didn’t stay in touch thereafter; his movies have screened at festivals all over the world, I’ve seen a pair and whereas to not everybody’s style, together with my very own, he’s definitely not shy coming ahead together with his views on politics and Chinese language historical past, whether or not in his filmmaking efforts or in individual.

A self-confessed lover of each China and Mao Zedong, Wu’s desires of heading to New York Metropolis to ascertain himself as an artist kind one essential dramatic factor of Zhu’s documentary, a paradox (shifting to a capitalist mecca of the USA whereas clinging to Maoist ideology) in Wu that maybe is emblematic of a wider cohort of Chinese language youth who’re each intensely patriotic however have grown up with western common tradition, from the NBA to the Marvel motion pictures allowed in by way of Chinese language censors.

In the meantime Ge’s desires of stardom and artistic satisfaction see her transfer to Beijing to pursue her profession and lots of her ambitions don’t appear a world away from many a younger lady in Los Angeles proper now. At one level the movie even follows her to Europe, and a very visually compelling second sees her dance round in a monorail carriage.

What do these younger folks and their story say in regards to the state of China’s future, a pair who see their hardworking dad and mom as a monetary salvation if required and who battle with their very own sexual frustrations and jealousies? Zhu and I mentioned his newest movie and his plans for the long run.

Let’s begin with the movie’s topic. I do know you could have been acquainted with Wu Haohao for a very long time given his standing as an impartial filmmaker in China, however why did you determine to make a documentary about him? What was particular about him for you versus many different Chinese language impartial filmmakers?

I knew Wu Haohao when he was nonetheless a university pupil, virtually 20 years in the past. He requested me to assist him to grow to be well-known; he had made some documentaries again then which I assumed had been fairly fascinating and totally different. I confirmed a few of his movies in my movie festivals and he was additionally invited to some worldwide festivals and was recognized by some curators and critics for his movies.

In contrast to many impartial filmmakers, he’s a nationalist and a Maoist, he’s pro-government and is at all times offended with the western international locations and their values. However round 2017, he advised me he needed emigrate to the US. This contradiction piqued my curiosity and I requested him if I might movie him. He agreed after which I began this documentary. 

Throughout filming did you discover it troublesome being caught between two younger lovers and their issues? Did they ever look to you for recommendation and the way did you stability being a distant observer whereas additionally realizing them personally?

It went fairly easily throughout filming. They each had been open to the challenge and so they had been fairly pleased about it at the moment. Possibly the issues got here from myself, typically I didn’t actually agree with them, and I used to be not so good at hiding my opinion.

They didn’t want any recommendation from me. It appears fairly clear all sides have their totally different opinions and would by no means agree on many issues. Wu’s admiration of Mao and even Xi particularly made me uncomfortable, truthfully. He was conscious of this discomfort; he requested me to inform him my opinion and I did. He’s additionally very nationalistic on the similar time.

We see Ge educating dancing within the movie, however with Wu, we all know he’s a filmmaker (and impartial filmmaking is notoriously a financially unstable pursuit) however what does Wu do usually as a job? Is filmmaking his full-time profession?

I didn’t see Wu Haohao do every other job moreover his filmmaking and portray. I don’t suppose his filmmaking and portray can earn him sufficient to dwell on, however he did get some earnings from each. He tries to promote his movies on totally different platforms, even on some grownup web sites as some folks advised me.

You’ve made controversial movies in China earlier than, and your festivals have attracted consideration from the authorities; did you discover any problem from the federal government whilst you had been filming this documentary?

I used to be fortunate and I don’t suppose the federal government actually thinks Wu Haohao and Ge Ningning are harmful folks, although they thought they’re communists. It appears the one conflicts with the federal government occurred once I adopted Wu to the municipal workplace, which is known as Road Administration Authority in China, the place the official didn’t permit me to movie.

What do you suppose Wu and Ge’s relationship says about trendy China and the long run generations of China?

They each declared to undertake a brand new relationship than the opposite Chinese language younger folks, not solely in sexual relations, but additionally about their opinions for one thing like communism. It appears like a type of new want of life in trendy China, which stands for one thing new and unacceptable for most individuals. However nonetheless in apply, it doesn’t go effectively as deliberate and patriarchy stands in the best way for his or her ideology of equality. Actually the change doesn’t actually occur in actual life.

After you completed filming have you ever stored in contact with Wu and Ge? Are they nonetheless collectively? Have they damaged up? What’s their scenario now?

I do have some contact with them however not typically. They’ve damaged up and every has a brand new accomplice. Wu Haohao doesn’t need me to reveal additional details about him, although he claims he’s a communist and he has no secret to cover.

Each Wu and Ge point out they see their dad and mom as a monetary salvation for them. Is that this frequent inside China for folks their age?

Some folks like Wu Haohao and Ge Ningning don’t suppose it’s an issue for relying on their dad and mom for monetary assist, others would possibly. Due to the one baby coverage, many households have just one baby. When the kid turns into an grownup, their dependence continues. Fortunate for Wu and Ge however it’s not so frequent in China now, or most younger folks don’t have the chance as a result of their dad and mom are usually not wealthy sufficient.

How do you see this movie becoming in thematically along with your different movies?

The characters in “No Want to Disguise” look totally different from my earlier movies, the characters might appear to be another youthful technology to the folks in my different movies, however it’s nonetheless about right now’s China and it’s nonetheless inside my curiosity to know what is occurring in China and why.

You might be an vital determine in Chinese language impartial cinema. What’s your view on the state of Chinese language impartial cinema proper now, in China and overseas?

Most filmmakers in China don’t care what impartial movies are. The propaganda and business movies dominate the market, there isn’t any area for impartial movies in China. Even youthful filmmakers don’t need to be known as “impartial filmmakers”. The age for impartial movies is gone. I didn’t count on an excessive amount of from the phenomenon in China, I’m simply unsure it will disappear so shortly as a gaggle exercise. Particular person works are persevering with, however the best way to showcase, to debate, and to distribute are all not possible in China nowadays.

Worldwide movie tradition offers a means for exhibiting and discussing Chinese language impartial movies however there’s not a lot area for impartial cinema both. Many abroad Chinese language filmmakers make the identical kinds of movie as in mainland China. Proper now even the manufacturing of impartial movies is a query. If there’s no monetary assist, no platform, then I don’t suppose there are various selections for actual impartial filmmakers.

What was the response of Wu and Ge after seeing the movie?

Wu Haohao stated “excellent” after he watched it; Ge Ningning hasn’t seen it but, she stated she want to watch it later.

What was the response of Chinese language and worldwide audiences to the movie?

It hasn’t been proven in China but and possibly received’t have an opportunity both.

What are your plans for the long run?

I’m not good at making any plans, it’s much more troublesome proper now with the pandemic. I benefit from the unpredictability of filmmaking. If there are any plans which can be sure, it’s that I’ve to complete all of the tasks I began a number of years in the past.



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