On April 25, the 13th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) ushered in the second Workshop & Masterclass. Yonfan, a photographer, director and writer in Hong Kong, China, had a conversation with the guest moderator, Prof. Wenchi Lin. With the theme of "Golden Years Onstage and Offstage", they recalled and discussed Yonfan’s artistic life, encouraged the young creators to continue to pursue the artistic creation of simplicity, truth and perfection.
A person with "simplicity and purity"
Yonfan’s artistic career can be called a legendary experience. He worked as a photographer at the age of sixteen and took photos for many stars including Anita Mui, Lam Tsz-cheung, Andy Lau, Sally Yeh and Leslie Cheung.
The Site of Yonfan Workshop & Masterclass
In 1984, he transformed to directing with the release of many classic films such as Immortal Story, Last Romance and Peony Pavilion. Meanwhile, he also discovered many actors who became famous later. Then, he was dedicated to writing and published many works such as Intermission, Intoxication, Fu Hwa, Liu Jin and Romantica.
As an artist involved in many fields of art with a dazzling and brilliant life, Yonfan still feels himself a very ordinary and simple person.
“I’m living a fictitious life with ‘Yonfan’ style. Everyone believes that 'Yonfan' is very elegant with the premium living conditions, but I have never been living like that. On the contrary, I’m always living a very simple life.”
"The times provided an opportunity for me so that I can do something and show it to others. I wrote articles and took photos. In the 1970s and 1980s, I shot for almost all the covers of music records in Hong Kong, China.”
He had a very high salary at that time, but he didn't want to live a luxury life. Such a simplicity has created the purity of his artistic life. For him, films can integrate all his preferences in literature, painting, photography and music with full presentation.
A person willing to take "challenges"
He regards himself as a person willing to take challenges. Many people say that he is extremely lucky — he got to know Chang Dai-chien, a master of art, at early ages; he took photos for many well-known film stars and singers; he had innate talent in music, dance, painting and photography.
"I feel I am lucky indeed, but I have never wasted my good fortune. I feel very proud and my parents can be proud of me, too.”
His parents once told him that he must support himself, so he often reflected on himself: How to become a useful person? He got the answer after careful reflection: to make some contributions to the society.
He always insisted on a concept, "Every time I do something, I must achieve self-breakthrough and find a different me in the 'true self'. Many painters have drawn for decades but they cannot get rid of their own frames. They just keep changing inside the frames. However, I hope to do better and this is the criterion of my own creation.”
A person who "refuses to flatter others”
He also suffered from many setbacks in his artistic career, such as low box office or poor reputation, but they became an encouragement for him in the end.
He couldn't understand the endless doubts at first. However, he stood up again despite all these setbacks. “The blows you suffered from every time will bring you massive energy to guide you on a wider path.”
No matter what blows he has suffered from, he will never change himself to flatter others. He sighed, "I'm over sixty years old and why do I have to flatter others?"
He often sells his collection of paintings to produce films. People once said to him, “It’s really enviable that you never have to worry about the filming budget.” But in his opinion, “Some people are rich indeed, but they are unwilling to spend their money producing films. However, I, Yonfan, can make it!"
Yonfan is such a person with strong passion for art and endless pursuit for truth, goodness and beauty. He has always been forging ahead on the road of creation and written countless love letters to films — true love in and out of the screens, legends on and off the stages.
Conversation between Yonfan and Wenchi Lin