On the night of January 2, 2019, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, the winning project of the Special Award for the Project Pitches of the 8th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF), successfully came to its last shot, and various post-production work officially started. From the imagination of the project’s screenplay to filming and conclusion, the whole project spent three years. Just on the night of concluding filming, the director Gu Xiaogang delivered a poem to the whole crew, “In the accompany of all of you in all four seasons, the two year of filming was unknowingly passed. Bright future is looming, and hope is waiting for you,” in a hope to dedicate it to all those who participated in and helped the film during the two years of filming.
At the beginning of April 2018 when there was just a large fluffy snow accompanied by a brisk wind in Beijing, Gu Xiaogang, with a pair of rimless glasses to show a unique scholar’s style, took the film project Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains to participate in the second-round selection of the 8th BJIFF Project Pitches.
Gu Xiaogang hails from Fuyang, Hangzhou, and the Fuchun River in his hometown is the origin of the name of the river in the film project Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains. Six hundred years ago, Mr. Huang Gongwang, a famous painter of the Yuan Dynasty, drew the painting called Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains based on the scenery on both sides of the Fuchun River. To welcome the 2022 Asian Games, the construction of the new sections of Fuyang is in full swing. In this context, the film Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains narrates a story that beside the Fuchun River in Hangzhou, four brothers take turns to take care of the mother suffered with Alzheimer's disease after taking a stroke in different seasons, and the four families face the test of family and life. It unfolds slowly by virtue of the changes in temperature at all seasons.
Director Zhao Tianyu, a judge of the second-round selection, read the screenplay of Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains in advance. After watching the footage of Gu Xiaogang's test shot, Zhao expressed his affirmation to the image and directly asked: “This project is of some note in the filmdom. What kind of support we can you give to you?” In the eyes of outsiders, the project has already been recognized in the industry. So, why the project that have been partially shot continues to participate in the Project Pitches?
The bitterness behind every project is often rarely known by people. According to Gu Xiaogang, for the film Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, he planned to shoot the scenes of the spring, summer, autumn and winter seasons of the Fuchun River. To capture the best opportunity to record the changes in Fuyang City, the team decided to start shooting out of their own pocket without appropriate investors. Gu Xiaogang strained every nerve to borrow money from friends and relatives and applied for a few loans, which helped him last for half a year. Before running out of the funds, the crew reduced the expenditures for the shooting equipment and adopted an unconventional shooting method to complete the test shots of the summer and autumn seasons. No funds means that the project can only come to a standstill, but time waits for no one. On the one hand, the urban appearance of his hometown Fuyang was changing day by day; on the other hand, the repayment period of the loans was getting closer and closer. As a result, Gu Xiaogang took the project to participate in the Project Pitches and hoped to address the situation that the crew was out at the elbows at the moment. “At that time everyone was down in the doldrums, “said he when recalling the status of his participation in the 8th BJIFF Project Pitches.
Even despite the dual pressure of time and financial distress, Gu Xiaogang still kept great patience. The love of the film saved him tremendous energy, inspiring him to film an excellent finished film Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains. Gu Xiaogang didn’t go to any film college. At the beginning, he just wanted to study the film by shooting documentaries and once completed a long documentary titled Planting for Life. The experience in documentary shooting is beneficial to him to some degree. When talking about the expectation for the feature film Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, Gu Xiaogang said: “What we corrected from the beginning is how we can be like a sincere ritualist and tour guide to present the viewers a precious lead work.” The cross-quarter shooting of the film Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains was very challenging for production. Gu Xiaogang admitted that he still needed some direct encouragement to help him remain true to his original aspiration in the toughest times at the interval of waiting for shooting and financing.
On the scene of the roadshow of the 8th BJIFF Project Pitches, the judges of the final-round selection including Director Ning Hao, Director Mei Feng and Producer Liu Kailuo decided to give the Special Award to Gu Xiaogang’s Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains. Mr. Mei Feng was hired as the production designer of Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains right after the end of the Project Pitches and made sound suggestions for the screenplay, and movie.youku.com where Mr. Liu Kailuo works decided to invest in the film. For Gu Xiaogang and his team, this help and support are not only greater encouragement or more financial support, but to push the project towards qualitative change step by step. In the end, the project Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains met a congenial investor on the Project Pitches platform of the BJIFF. Mr. Huang Xufeng from Factory Gate Film showed his interest in Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains during the roadshow stage. After several heart-to-heart talks, Huang Xufeng helped Gu pay off all the debts of the project one day before the due loans. All the bitterness and “struggling” were a thing of the past on this day. The addition of the professional production team allowed Gu Xiaogang to finally create the film with peace of mind. Before that, he felt that the way of retrenching funds to ensure the shooting was just like “a fight against the film”.
The call for entries of the 9th BJIFF Project Pitches is open now, which collects “pitching projects” and “Working In Process” (WIP) from all new filmmakers who are still "wrestling with the film". When Director Gu Xiaogang learned that this year’s Project Pitches has launched the WIP, he said that he still had the urge to sign up, but he further stated that he already had got the appropriate funds to guarantee the production and hoped to leave the opportunity to those who are in need just as what they were before.
The 9th BJIFF “Project Pitches Roadshow”, which is highly anticipated by the industry, will be held at the Beijing International Hotel from April 16 to 19, 2019. The only registration channel for Project Pitches has been opened. All applicants must ensure that the application projects comply with the General Principles for “Project Pitches” of the Beijing Film Market at the BJIFF, and submit complete project information via the official website of the Beijing International Film Festival (http://www.bjiff.com). The deadline for registration is March 3, 2019, Beijing time, and the closing date for the submission of supplementary materials for WIP is March 10, 2019 Beijing time.
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The 9th Beijing International Film Festival is looking forward to your participation!