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Film Competition: China and Columbia

On the fourth day of the Pacific Meridian film festival, two full–length films were screened for the public.

On the fourth day of the Pacific Meridian film festival, two full–length films were screened for the public. These films were “People Mountain People Sea”, directed by Cai Shangjun, presented by the Chinese director himself, and the film “La Sirga”, by Columbian director William Vega. But as the director couldn’t come to the festival, his assistant Santiago Lozano, arrived instead.

Questions to Santiago Lozano:

– How strong your films atmosphere correlates to the real atmosphere in Columbia?

– It’s a metaphor of the armed conflict, going on in Columbia. It’s unusual as everyone feels tension, but doesn’t see anything specific. And for some reason, life is keeping on going.

– The film depicts a life of the main character during periods between armed conflicts. Is this right for Alicia to start something new, or it’d be better to prepare to the unavoidable?

– Yes, as the reality stands in, if the conflict ends somewhere, it immediately starts somewhere else. That’s my opinion, it would be better for Alicia to start living on her own, developing somehow. But on the other hand, if she’s gonna start everything over again, she will have to get used to her current situation. And that’s how the country lives, in general. Columbia tries to recover from every conflict. And the only option is to start everything over, but to take a current situation into consideration.

– The main character is suffering from somnambulism. At night she goes to the beach to dig holes there. It reminded me of a character of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, who was eating the soil. Is it an attempt to feel the solid ground under your feet, to overcome loneliness, and to fight the right way?

– Our intention was to show what kind of impact war may possibly have on one’s personality. A disease from early child has returned after psychological trauma. The director was trying to put the war conflict a little aside, and concentrate on characters and their lives.

Questions to Cai Shangjun:

– You had previously mentioned that the Chinese government tries to close mines. Where you were shooting the mines scenes? How did you actually manage to find those mines?

– In fact it took a while to find them, about a month. Eventually we found a good one in Shanxi. As a matter of fact, there is a couple of hundreds of mines in Shanxi, both state and private properties, and state, legal and illegal, big and small. But most of them are closed. At first we could not get permission to shoot, but later we handled everything due to our friends’ health. We had to prepare the mines for shooting, as they had not been used for a long time. And by the end of the day, I myself looked like a miner.

– Your movie is based on true events .How did you learn about those events? Why did you decide to make the movie?

– That’s right this is a true story, but adapted. Once, I saw a post on the internet dated with 2008. It was an incident of a usual Chinese man, who lived in the village. Who would have thought that a usual person like him was capable to complete that important mission. It seemed very unusual to my mind. I thought that situation was similar to what was going on in China at that time.

– People liked the movie a lot. So did the movie industry community. How would you explain such successful result? What’s the secret of good movie according to your opinion?

– I’m not very much experienced director, really. “People Mountain People Sea” is just my second full–length work. And all the awards and approvals of my films are extremely important to me. But, most important is the director’s message to audience, to touch hearts of people. I studied scriptwriting and theatrical art, and the thing I learned from that your work, whatever it is, should resonate with your current state of mind. For making a good movie, you should be in harmony with yourself.

– Would you like to shoot a movie here, in Vladivostok?

– I had to reason for coming here. First, to take part in the festival, second, I’m about to start making a new movie, and I want to partially shoot it in Vladivostok.

It will depict a story of the city, located on the border of Russia and China. It will be a continuation of Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” in a way.

– Your experience of working in theatre and on TV helped you somehow during the shooting process? Staging shows and making movie are two different things, you know.

– I studied filmmaking on my own. I was watching movies, a lot of movies, talking to filmmakers, studying movie scripts. I still have a lot to learn.

– So, are you going to apply to some professional institution?

– No I’m not. I will continue my self education process.

Photo here.