Light and Shadow Themed with Family
Film festival is regarded as an opportunity for filmmakers and fans to get together, where the films take the place of our language to create a paradise for all in a bustling city. The annual Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) is about to kick off and the films shortlisted for the competition section, the "Tiantan Award”, have also been revealed as scheduled to meet with the fans at the cinema.
However, it’s indeed very hard to realize such a gathering. Since the post-pandemic era, some conventional behaviors such as dates, visits, gathering and traveling in the past have become increasingly precious due to various uncertainties. In such a circumstance, just like the concept “Beauty in Variety, Harmony in Diversity" advocated by the “Tiantan Award”, the paradise of film festival is more like a family related to films, where everyone can enjoy themselves. According to the definition of family by David Popenoe, the film festival as a family consists of the films, the fans and the filmmakers, who need to carry on the lights and shadows on the screen with joint efforts.
With regard to the family, the first thing occurred to our mind is usually the family relationship between the parents and the children, who raise and support each other with the time goes by. However, our emotions about family are as complex as the definition itself. In the family perhaps exist the most complicated feelings as well as the rights and wrongs in the world.
In the film Song of Spring, the mother and daughter are getting old with the time goes by. In the small family, the time seemed to flow and pause sometimes. The film is filled with dim light so that everything seems to be painted with the strong sense of nostalgia. Perhaps we are more familiar to the young and full forehead of the mother who is breastfeeding while forgetting that her identity has never been changed when the wrinkles have crept on her face. In spite of her countless identities, she, the mother, is indeed the unique for you. This film just aims to sing a song of spring which starts with “I love you” and also ends with “I love you”.
“"Mama" is perhaps the first word to be uttered, which can cross different regions, eras, cultures and even races with countless studies on it. The two-syllable word with a simple pronunciation reflects the most complicated philosophical concept in human history. In the film The Family, the adopted child and the mother find themselves in the dilemma. The child is often reminded that he does not belong to this family, while the mother’s emotional instinct has also been restricted by the cold laws. Although they have no choice but to cut off the mother-child ties, they are still a family in a real sense.
It’s said that the cuckoo can feed the fledglings in a fair manner which was described by a scholar in ancient China in his book. Facing so many children, the parents may not treat their kids in the same way to that of the cuckoos, but their love is so heavy that it’s impossible to be measured. The film In Search of Lost Time is adapted from the historical event of "three thousand orphans entering Inner Mongolia" which occurred during the period of natural disaster in China. Standing before the "children of the nation", the herdsmen in Inner Mongolia opened their arms just like the vast grassland. When they're holding these kids tightly in the arms, it’s impossible to tell whether the love makes a difference since it’s the philanthropy immeasurable just like the mountains and rivers.
The history moves forward like a wheel and the new life in modern times is always accompanied by the disappearance of tradition. When the jungles made of iron and steel rise on the ground, those sitting in conference rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows always like talking about the global warming. On the southern Bolivian Plateau in the east of the Andes where it’s far from the metropolitan skyline, the desertification, drought, water scarcity... the crumbling home seems even more dangerous. An old couple, Virginio and Sisa, in the film Utama are standing on the land where they have lived lifelong. Facing the departing neighbors and their collapsing home, should they choose to stay or escape with the others? When a dirge of Inca Quechua culture echoes, can we still safeguard our homeland?
he prosperity of metropolitan culture and the acceleration of modernization have brought about the diversification of families. When family members are closely connected no longer identified only based on the blood, affinity or adoptive relationship, those united around common interests, ideals and goals will bring a new interpretation to the term of family. In the film Call Jane, all the women have no blood relationship since they come from different social classes with different backgrounds, ages and appearances. However, they are proud to be women and set up a mutual aid organization based on their original identities. Facing another unfair sentence, they rise up and fight for themselves. The moment they are born woman, they own a big family of more than 3 billion members.
People may give the term family countless definitions, classifications and interpretations, the importance and significance to individuals have already become the consensus of the mass. The family represents the smallest unit of interpersonal relationship in the society; meanwhile, it is also the most representative and even the most complex one of the social relations. People can tolerate each other as being integrated within a family which is the highest and optimal solution of cooperation in the development of human society. In terms of the film creation, the adoption of film types in a mixed and innovative way can create more artistic possibilities, which is exactly the same as the definition of the term family.
How do you feel at a single mother before the camera? Her frail back, sobbing shoulders or gaunt face? What do you hear when the volume is up? The kid’s crying, registration prompt or the noise of washing machine? The trivialities in life and daily labors are enough to turn a single mother into an experienced warrior. When the alarm clock goes off every morning, it sounds like a horn for single mother, Julie, to fight day by day. There is no overly dramatic story or romanticized audiovisual narration in the film, Full Time, which takes the realism as the gun and the type as the bullet to blend the thriller, espionage, action and more together to disassemble the authenticity of life.
The Indian film Jai Bhim shifts the camera away from the splendid dance floor in the palace and places it directly into the earth to record another India from the perspective of the grassroots instead of looking down from a bird's eyes. A verdict on the defense of justice is being carried on there. Facing the heaviness behind the history, the film does not choose to translate the truth into images word for word. Instead, it adopts the expression of genre films to attract the audience with the strong image expression and excellent narrative structure. The significance of the verdict will not be remembered to the greatest extent unless the audience can really witness the contest of human nature. The force of authenticity will never be weakened by the change of forms.
The Turkish film Anatolian Leopard combines the black comedy and the globalized allegory to use the oldest zoo in the city as an entry to Turkey. With the slow-film brushstrokes, highly stylized narration and visual expression, it presents a film full of metaphors and strange temperament. The Anatolian leopard, which can save the zoo crisis but disappears, has been extinct since 1974. And its absence in the film conveys a national melancholy against the backdrop of the urban landscape of Turkey in transition period. However, the Anatolian leopard is found again in 2022. What an ingenious intertextual relationship between the art and the reality!
The Thai film Bad Genius produced in the way of shootout to reflect the exam cheating has once brought the audience an unprecedented novel experience with the bold and innovative strategy. However, The Exam, which also tells the story of cheating in exams, adopts the same strategy to further reflect the core of social reality. Two sisters, who are trapped in the predicament with nowhere to escape, have to go further along the wrong road. Every cheating in the exam seems to light the bomb hidden under the table in front of the audience. The time is visualized and each breath becomes so extraordinarily exciting that the adrenaline beats with the blood vessels along with the rhythm of the film. When the clock hands overlap and the exam draws over, what awaits the sisters at the end of the wrong way is the moment of silence while what awaits the audience is a still photo of the country of Iraq.
When the tradition of academism joins hands with the “New Tide in Tibetan Areas”, what kind of sparks will be ignited? The film Kong and Jigme directed by Chen Guoxing and Lhapal Gyal may answer this question. The story takes place in Shigatse, Tibet where Galsang flowers and Guozhuang dance as well as wolf barks and music are mixed together to reflect the vitality of daily life. Old Kong comes afar in his youth with a sincere heart and a pair of feet to cover every inch of the land. He forges a deep friendship with Jigme and the world has witnessed all their contributions to this land and the people there. The film conducts a brand-new exploration of Tibetan narration to not only show the unique humanistic scenery in Tibet but also focus on the expression of real emotions rather than the monotonous narration of the deeds by the characters, so as to avoid the spectacle intention from the perspective of the outsiders while further expand the construction scope of Tibetan narration. From the creator to the characters then to the aesthetics, the rhythm is very harmonious with the true feelings blended with a type of unique sense of poetry.
With regard to the individuals, the family can provide one of the most fundamental and effective sources of energy against loneliness, which originates from our hearts and engraved on the most primitive genes; however, the loneliness also comes from the universe outside endlessly. As a universal language in the world, the film turns out to be an important way of interpersonal communication and cooperation between different countries and regions, different ethnic groups and even different eras. Meanwhile, the film has always pursued the harmonious unity of form and content in the past century to prove its legitimacy as an independent art.
The film The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic takes a blind man as the hero and adopts a strategy of simulating blindman’s vision and hearing. A large number of short-focus, virtual focus and close-up cameras are used in this film. Meanwhile, a lot of sound editing are conducted to expand another dimension of the film so as to provide another way to explore the image expression. Such an effective film language is adopted to organize the whole film that we can find how close we are to the characters.
Unrest should be regarded as the one with the strongest festival temperament among all the shortlisted films for “Tiantan Award” this year. The film tells the story of a small town specializing in watch manufacturing in Switzerland. All the people are working and living based on the strict schedules, so that their limbs and expressions in the factory seem to be slightly rigid. Many decentralized panoramas and fixed cameras make them assembled with everything around. The film explores the complicated unequal relationship between the factory and the residents in such a pure visual language, which perfectly integrates the form and the text just like the parts of a watch.
The film Off the Stage directed by Qiao Liang tells the story of Ms. Qi (played by He Saifei), a famous Yue Opera actress, on and off the stage. Taking the Yue Opera stage as a way of reminiscence, the film seems to cover a veil on some clear and vague memories. The strategy of ambiguous time and space is adopted to carry out a cinematic innovation to inherit and promote the art of Yue Opera. Waking up from the dream of opera perform, Ms. Qi realizes the reality and the memory are just like the intertwined plays, the ones off the stage are doomed to be separated like those on the stage. He Saifei, who plays Ms. Qi in the film, is an excellent Yue Opera artist herself. The mutual reflection between her and the film proves that the two types of artistic forms have never been fully integrated like this before
The satirical film The Good Boss, which won six honors at the 36th Goya Awards at the Spanish Film Academy in 2022, plays the black humor to the extreme. The film is named The Good Boss, but it actually refers to the opposite meaning. Blanco, the owner of the Balance Factory, claims himself to be fair and kindhearted. However, he plays a lot of tricks to deal with various emergencies so as to win the Outstanding Enterprise Award. Unfortunately, more and more "dissonance factors" arise, which seems to make him hard to deal with just like the model at the gate of the factory which can never be balanced. According to the mythology, God creates man in seven days, the smallest cycle in the calendar inherently containing the power of cyclical replacement, so the director chooses seven days as the seven chapters. Blanco finally keeps his honor of "good boss" after many crises and his way of balance seems to win in the end. However, there’s no eternal beauty after the seven-day genesis; instead, it’s the beginning of crisis and suffering, just like the bullet under the model at the factory gate. Behind the temporary balance hides the real test for this "good boss".
Following the film Happy Old Year, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, the Thai director shortlisted for the "Tiantan Award" again, brings his new film Fast & Feel Love this time, which also tells a love story occurred in the city of Bangkok. The film is themed with the sport stacking to combine the techniques of sports-themed films with the light comedy style and tell the truth of life matching the fast-paced editing and soundtrack full of sports rhythm to the repetitive use of scenes and plots.
The film Sardar Udham based on true story takes audiences back to the historical scene of Lord Michael O'Dwyer’s assassination by Udham Singh. From Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab to London, when Udham Singh sets foot on a foreign land to start revolution as a survivor of the tragedy, he embarks on a 21-year journey for revenge. Facing such a heavy theme and history, the film chooses flashback as the track to return to the past. The camera looks like a train of time to pull us back to witness the history. The interrogations against Singh are cut into pieces and embedded in the film to serve as the key anchor for representing the historical situation, portraying the characters and attracting the audience into the film.
In the past year, the film industry has also confronted with many difficulties and challenges. Many practitioners in the industry once asked themselves, "will the audience still need the films?" With regard to the art of film born a century ago, maybe we will not need them tomorrow and it may accompany us into the next century in another way. However, we still need film today just like it also needs us, so is the relationship between the filmmakers and the film festivals. From this perspective, there is no difference between film fans and filmmakers, because film fans are filmmakers themselves.
In dog days, the refreshing coolness is forced to hide under the scotching heat; fortunately, the harvesting autumn is approaching next just like the films and the fans at this moment. Let us get together at the BJIFF and take the lead to enjoy the films shortlisted for the "Tiantan Award” and pray for a brighter future.
The films shortlisted for the Competition Section of the 12th BJIFF "Tiantan Award” will be screened at different theaters in Beijing from August 13 to August 20. The details of shortlisted films and the specific screening information will be release soon, please stay tuned!