By Ma Ying and Hai Di
Last week I had an extraordinary movie experience:
The Beijing premiere of the latest Yang Zhang film „Full Circle” was in May. It was screened in Budapest on July 3rd on the occassion of the opening of the Chinese Film Week „Close-up view on China” in the Urania movie theatre. The biggest curiosity of the newest Chinese film drama is that the age of those elderly actors in the film added together is 3000 years!
The story is taking place in a private home for elderly people where despite of all the tender care the old guys living there receive, they dont feel happy. Longing to fulfill their aspirations and desires, disobeying the daily routine and breaking the rules, they take the responsibility for their own lives and escape from the home. The story continues with their adventurous trip to Tianjin, where they participate at a talent show.
„6th generation” Film director Yang Zhang is drafting a sharp crriticism on the society (exactly the way we expect him to do), pointing out problems orignating from traditional Chinese values and contemporary Chinese approach to life.
Yang Zhang is showcasing one of the most important values of a Chinese family: respect for the elderly, which is meant to be a cohesional power in the family. He is bringing out the importance of these values using humour and humanity while demostrating the destiny of the performers.
A realistic portrayal (so characteristic for Yang Zhang’s art) is preposessing the bittersweet film: almost harsh undertaking of those unspoken feelings. Every biy of the the optimistic but at the same time sad story is saturated by the convincing and likable play of the elderly actors. By the end of the film part of their wishes are fullfilled, family conflicts are resolved.
I had the opportunity to meet personally the young and charming Yan Bingyan, who is playing one of the main characters in the film „Full circle”. She was visiting Budapest as a member of the Chinese delegation participating at the opening of the Chinese Film Week.
- ”Full Circle” is a very special film for me, as it is not only about a specific problem in China. It is a generation conflict touching everyone emotionally all over the world. Unfortunately I didnt have the chance to see much in Budapest, as time is very short, but I am captured by the passionate interest of the Hungarian public and film lovers towards Chinese movies. I didn’t think that so many people will attend the film festival and also, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see the beautiful city of Budapest, get to know Hungarian people” - said Yan Bingyan at the reception following the opening of the Chinese Film Festival. „In this movie I play the role of the young director of the home for elderly people, which is a venue of sad and tragic life stories. Almost every resident is abandoned by their family and children, for many reasons. Some are weak and senile, some waiting for death or looking for redemption but among them we can find people striving to make others happy, stimulating them for active play instead of being resistent and bored. Despite of the fact that elderly people get adequate care and solicitude, nobody feels at home. But residents cannot leave the home. The charecter of the director is facing the problem of happiness: it is not always security, safety and careful care which makes the old people happy. The struggle of the director lies in the question: can we decide about the faith of our old parents? How much time we spend with them in reality? What is the meaning of care and solicitude? Do we give them the same respect, patience and love they gave us bringing us up? These are generation problems, questions of the aging population we meet not only in China but all over the world.”
Behind the scenes of contemporary Chinese film
Following the traditions of thousands years old Chinese culture film production in mainland China in the XXIst century is aiming to success and fame.
China became the 3rd biggest film power after Hollywood and Bollywood. In 2011 all together 791 movies were made in Mainland China. Income from solely ticket sales on he Chinese film market was over 2 milliards USD. Based on the growing number of cinemas in China, the country can easily become the 2nd biggest film market worldwide, leaving Japan behind.
„Close-up view on China” contemporary Chinese film week was organized in the Urania Movie Theatre, Budapest on July 3-4. 2012. The film week was supported by the Hungarian National Media and Broadcasting Authority and the Embassy of the People ’s Republic of China in Budapest.
Among the 8 films on screen by the best contemporary Chinese directors were drama pieces, animation, adventure movies as well as romantic films, giving a taste and colorful variety from every corner of contemporary Chinese film production - which is characterized by a wonderful mixture of popular soap operas through artistic to entertaining films.
However, most popular productions in Mainland China are those connected with specific Chinese problems.
On the Chinese film market - by the local regulations - there is still a limit to the number of foreign (mostly American) films screened in China which means annually 20-25 films altogether. Despite of this fact, with the rapid growth of Chinese internet users the number of movie lovers is growing proportionately.