Wu Hai Wraps up Beijing Film Panorama with Look that Gets Likes, Director Zhou Ziyang Demystifies Story Behind the Scenes
The 11th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) concluded on high notes. A special screening event for the film Wu Hai, directed by young director Zhou Ziyang and starring Huang Xuan and Yang Zishan, was held at the Beijing Film Panorama section on September 28. The film features a strong sense of genre causing a stir and a list of superlatives. Zhou attended the post-screening exchange and engaged with the audience to share his creative story. Wu Hai will officially hit the theaters nationwide on October 29.
Post-screening exchange of Wu Hai
 
Screening of Film as Grand Finale at BJIFF Wins Critical Acclaim again
Huang Xuan and Yang Zishan Deliver Immersive Performance
 
As the his second directorial feature film, Zhou Ziyang’s Wu Hai applies a surrealist perspective tinged with somewhat absurd touch to narrate the love and hatred between a young couple, Yang Hua and Miao Wei, in reality under pressure. On the evening of September 28, the film, which has won multiple international film festival awards, was screened at the BJIFF as a grand finale, and the audience was able to catch a sneak preview before it is officially released. The screenwriter-turned-director’s strong personal style, hectic pace for story, impactful visual aesthetics, informative metaphorical techniques and other elements were fully praised. Huang Xuan and Yang Zishan also deliver their superb acting skills. A long tracking shot of a nearly 8-minute quarrel scene impressed and set the audience on fire. “The acting skills of the two are good throughout the scene, which is as real as what often happens to a young couple living next door to someone's house", "It allows me to reflect on my family relationship and the way we get along in marriage."
Stage photo of Wu Hai
 
It is reported that during the filming, the crew originally arranged Huang Xuan a room facing the sun with bright sunshine, but he deliberately changed it to one with the worst lighting in order to get close to the psychological state of the character. In the film, "Yang Hua" gets bogged down in the turmoil of family, debt and innermost being, and his life is driving him to the edge. In the dimly lit room, Huang Xuan faced the desolate Gobi in late autumn and found the feeling he wants. Even he didn't wash his hair or face for a few days. From his state of mind to his image, he was always building up the emotions for the character, and was poised to unleash them in the play. "In later stages, the character Yang Hua is a bit out of control and even goes insane. At that time, Huang Xuan always put himself in such a mood. His whole being and the way he looked at others made people a little afraid to approach him,” commented the film’s heroine Yang Zishan. Similarly, she was deeply brought into play as well. According to director Zhou Ziyang, Yang Zishan cried and had a nervous breakdown after that violent quarrel with Huang Xuan in the film, and unable to calm herself for a long time. When the director and the two actors finished the act, all of them needed to hug each other warmly and comfort each other.
Stage photo of Wu Hai
 
Director Zhou Ziyang Reveals Behind-the-scenes Tidbits about Filming
 
In 2018, Zhou Ziyang’s debut directorial film work Old Beast was a runaway success. After watching Wu Hai, the audience generally believe that the reality and hyper-reality Zhou Ziyang pursues in creation are intertwined, which particularly is more vehemently in the story of Wu Hai. Besides, emotional catharsis is taken to more extreme. The film presents a continuous visual impact. Director Zhou Ziyang made full use of cityscapes, coupled with natural landscapes such as deserts, lakes, Gobi and cliffs, to create a unique sense of beauty. At the scene of the BJIFF Beijing Film Panorama, Zhou shared the creative concept and journey of Wu Hai.
Young director Zhou Ziyang
 
To creatively upgrade his second feature film, director Zhou Ziyang together with Huang Xuan visited the shooting location before filming, experiencing "Yang Hua’s" life trajectory from childhood to adulthood. Taking into account the need to highlight the visual effect and appreciative value in such a feature film with more backlots, Wu Hai was shot with the ARRI ALEXA 65mm format cinema camera every step of the way. In addition to blockbusters such as the movies The Eight Hundred, Roma and The Revenant, this is the first time that ALEXA 65 has been used in a young Chinese director's film work. Zhou said that these creative considerations were all intended to fully express the profound meaning of the title, the desire and greed, misunderstanding and suspicion that the film implies. He believes the audience can also feel a kindness and life force from the backs of the story. Zhou believes, "This is also where the charm of a realistic subject matter lies in."
Stage photo of Wu Hai
 
The film Wu Hai is presented by Juben Pictures Shanghai, Old Beast Films and Beijing Buying Legend Culture Media Co., Ltd. and co-presented by Shanghai Xuanzhi Film and Television Culture Studio, Inner Mongolia Mihe Culture Media Co., Ltd., Yuanheng Pictures Film Culture Company, Zhenjiang Tianying Pictures Film Culture Media Co., Ltd. and Beijing Chuanshi Glory Media Culture Co., Ltd. It is also a project sponsored by the special funds for promoting the development of the film industry in Shanghai.
 
How do Yang Hua and Miao Wei face the radical change in life? What are the metaphors behind the yoga, dinosaurs and lungfish in the film? The cinema will tell the answers on October 29.
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