Land of Red Suns
It's an eerie feeling when you can stare directly into the sun at any time during the day and yet it makes for the most beautiful sunsets. Welcome to the irony of china, where my Chinese aunt and uncle celebrate the purchase of their first car—an SUV no less—on the smoggiest day of the year and we kill a goose on the roof of their ten story apartment. A potent and strange mix of old traditions and modern milestones.
You can virtually step into my shoes by clicking on this link: http://on.bubb.li/348158abev9rp0793wmtwei/
The last few months have been filled with new experiences like this. From a night spent amongst New York Times reporters and Chinese dissidents to celebrating the Chinese New Year in the home of a friend to interviewing some of China's foremost independent film critics and directors, my stay in China has been nothing other than insightful.
Zhao Liang and I spend an afternoon in his studio talking about his new film Behemoth and the effect of state censorship on the art. Here is a favorite quote from the interview:
"In order to improve the situation the government has to change their standard on judging good art from bad. Because what we see as good art isn’t that same as what they see right now. What the government thinks is good art is to copy the Hollywood model for Chinese domestic films and putting their hand in it to help them rule better. Their definition of art is for better governing. They want to copy the Hollywood model and control it. What documentaries do is to break lies and to tell the truth. Is the government willing to face the truth?"
Another quote from Beijing Film Professor and actor Zhang Xianmin:
"For almost one decade festivals had been independent, but not underground. But by now festivals are becoming underground. When a festival become underground is it still a festival? That’s another question. I call it by a metaphor, it’s a ruin of festival. Because it’s a nation based on demolition. The problem of demolition is what to build on the demolition site. If there’s nothing to build on the demolition site, it’s a ruin. Independent festivals are in this state of existence, a state ruin."
In exactly a week I'm off to India to start a new chapter of my Watson. I have a few articles in the pipeline that I'll be sure to post. More frequent blogging to come.