Six things we learned from the fascinating filmmaker:
1. Feng doesn’t believes his job is to tell actors how to act, that is the job of film school teachers; that’s why he hires the best actors.
- Feng thinks the best way for actors to improvise character is to find a real life example for them to use.
2. For AFTERSHOCK (2010), Xiaogang had to work with international companies to realise the visual effects – South Africa, UK, Canada and South Korea.
3. ASSEMBLY (2007) is about a group of people sacrificed for the greater good. He wanted to show an audience the cruelties of war, as well as the humanity/fears of every soldier and their reluctance to kill.
- Two films influenced ASSEMBLY: SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998) and TAE GUK GI: THE BROTHERHOOD OF WAR (2004). Due to the effects in the latter, he hired that team – 1/5 the cost of the Hollywood equivalent.
4. Even with the practical presentation of coupling, Xiaogang believes in love.
5. Every film Feng makes is a record of a specific period of China.
- The relationships of the characters are what drive him to tell the story.
6. Xiaogang sees the environment is being wrecked, and intellectual property is not respected, in modern China.
BACK TO 1942 (2012) is a film where we can see what went wrong “with us as a people” he says.
- As China becomes a wealthy country, a mirror needs to be held up.
- The lack of religion and faith within China can lead to material greed and selfishness.
- Right now, Xiaogang thinks people only care about short-term profit and not long-term values. Pretty much all forests have been cut down. Factories are dumping chemicals into rivers, not thinking about children and grandchildren. Privacy as well as intellectual property theft issues too.
- He is disgusted, and is seriously contemplating what went wrong with him and China. Can’t be a great people if only think in terms of short-term values he states.
- Realised lost religion in 1942. Just because you go to the temple, bow down and give money, are they religious? It’s a deal, an exchange, they want more health and wealth.
- By making film, can observe and correct.
- Censors passed BACK TO 1942, but audiences mocked him for it.
Wow! An unexpected level of frankness from Feng Xiaogang.