... International Film Festival. Guo is also known as a Chinese novelist. The young and powerful Xiaolu Guo, who lives in London, uses art to broach the issue of alienation, memory, personal journeys, daily tragedies and to develop her own vision of China´s past and its future in a global environment.
Her personal statement about the film "She, a Chinese", found on her homepage reads: "As a Mainland Chinese filmmaker, I feel world cinema needs to move away from its focus on specific cultural identities, to go further, to do something broader and wilder. My ambition was to make a film that challenges the traditional Chinese cinema style, to cross over cultural borders, with a fresh artistic language and a personal voice. I also wanted to make a film with a strong attitude coming from the younger generation in modern China, speaking about the contemporary issues among young people in a globalized world."
AVIVA-Berlin had the chance to talk with Xiaolu Guo at her film premier in Berlin.
AVIVA-Berlin: Your movie premier started in Europe. Will your film also be screened in China?
Xiaolu Guo: I think there will be no commission for the film because of the censorship and the commercial film industry - In China the cinema is made for the American movies. Thanks god that we have arthouse cinemas here, that I can show my film.
AVIVA-Berlin: You filmed in China and in Europe. What are the differences concerning filmmaking?
Xiaolu Guo: I think the way of working, in the West, how can I say that... maybe you hate America. [laughs] OK, in Germany or Britain filmmaking is very professional: you have to go to casting agents and also when actors come, they have this fake audition and performance and that is so awful. To play someone else is a cruelty. So my method was, when I needed an Indian actor, I went to an Indian restaurant and asked the man there.
AVIVA-Berlin: So how did you find the female protagonist girl, Mei, in "She, a Chinese"?
Xiaolu Guo: I never met her before shooting. I searched for an actress in Chinese restaurants, but I hated them all. Are any Chinese here? [laughs] I do not like the quality of their face. Sorry, again. In traditional Chinese films the actresses have very dramatic faces. But I want a face, that is very young and innocent and totally abstract - a face that is emotionless, there is no emotion that you can instantly feel, and that is very difficult to find, because most of the actors tried to act very technically emotions. I hate that but most of the actors in UK are so and therefore I was searching on the internet for actors from China and so I found the protagonist and said: "OK, come over." My producer was freakin´out: "Are you sure?" But I was sure, I called her and I liked her voice, it was a very childish one. And I found the quality that I really like - this voice and face with no identity. So we get her a visa and she left China for the first time. It was crazy because the script was in English and she doesn´t understand it, so I had to explain it to her. But she was very fast and very clever.
So the whole film is very improvised, in my case - I come from a writing background, I´m a novelist - I believe a film shouldn´t be based on a book, I believe cinema should be cinema. But I write a script, because it is the first financed film. My other movies were very homemade and guerrilla films, because I was too lazy to have scripts.[laughs] When I am a novelist, I know nothing of the next and I don´t believe of the next. So I also improvised in my movie, an example is the snake scene, I just saw this women with this snake and told "Mei" and "Sparky" that they have to play with it. My producer wanted to know which scene it is and I just said I don´t know. Therefore such accidents came into the film.
AVIVA-Berlin: The process of leaving one´s homeland is a very essential issue in your movies as in your books. You have also left China and live now in London. Why is this process so important for you, can you please explain what it means to you today?
Xiaolu Guo: Internationalism, globalisation - everyone is leaving hometown and then the idea of hometown and your original identity become ever important and never important anymore. And I think in China, where I grew up, this national identity is so strong, that in my case being Chinese it is such a depression. Because you could never be punk, there is too much great history. You never found yourself in itself because you will ever be raped by your political statement. And that create the so called "identity"- You are communist, you are socialist, you are a women - and now you come to west and be a capitalist and you use all the English things and all this is a social identity. And so this film is about a person who uses all this social identities. I doubt the concept of hometown. Hometown is such a suppression.
AVIVA-Berlin: Nowadays we have the chance to travel around the world. Today I can live in China, tomorrow in Germany. How, do you think, does living in a global world change the lives of people around the globe?
Xiaolu Guo: That is a very economical question. Hmm… I don´t know. How do you feel when Turkish people occupied in Germany? [laughs] Great. We are all saying, that it is such a wonderful international time, everyone is with everyone. I don´t believe that, I think the cultural boundary can be even deeper.
AVIVA-Berlin: Could you tell us about your future plans?
Xiaolu Guo: Give me 8 months... [laughs]
AVIVA-Berlin: Thank you very much for this interview and all the best!
More information to the filmmaker and novelist Xiaolu Guo: www.guoxiaolu.com
Read our reviews to:
"She, A Chinese." Ein Film von Xiaolu Guo
"Ein Ufo, dachte sie." Ein Buch von Xiaolu Guo