Interview with Bai Ling - Aviva - Berlin Online Magazin und Informationsportal für Frauen Women + Work im Mai 2024 - Beitrag vom 31.07.2005

Interview with Bai Ling
Karin Effing

She´s a Chinese actress, a previous member of the Berlinale jury, and her first film "Dumplings" made in Hong Kong, premiers in Germany.

Bai Ling had her film break co-starrring with Richard Gere in the political thriller "Red Corner" 1997. For her role as a committed lawyer she received numerous prizes such as the prestige "Breakthrough Award of The National Board of Review" and the "Discovery Star 1997" awarded by the Hollywood Women´s Press Club. The People Magazine nominated her as one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World". In Germany she achieved fame with her appearance at the 55th Berlinale where she was a member of the jury. Because of her fancy and skimpy clothes revealing a lot of skin and nipples, she soon earned the reputation as the "BerliNackt". The Bild-Zeitung called her red carpet show the "Nippplealarm".
The Chinese actress born in Szechuan was recently in Berlin at the premier of her new film "Dumplings " in which she plays a young woman who seems to have discovered the secret of everlasting youth.
At the interview with AVIVA-BERLIN, Bai Ling was wearing a red sequin-top and a black skirt. Her voice is deeper than you expect and is very melodious. She has deep brown eyes, and you can feel how she loves to be the centre of attention.
In "Dumpling" Bai Ling represents a young woman who prepares dishes with a dubious ingredient. She lives in a shabby tenement where her customer Mrs Li visits her in order to eat the miracle cure food.

AVIVA-Berlin: What do you have in common with Mei, the cook in the film?
I like her because she´s like myself, she´s got a free spirit. I like her because she’s like enjoying the moment of life. And I like her because she´s so wise.
She could be a character existing thousands years ago, she could be a character existing thousands years later....through the time....and she´s very sensitive. Because in the beginning she didn´t trust me. I realised that. And at the end of the film she basically revealed herself to me as what you see in the film.
It felt like a hot beautiful journey because it was like a dangerous love affair.
And also the film is very dangerous. Tough and dealing with difficult problems which are really, really part of our lives like plastic surgery. It´s very close to us, every day. Beauty is very important in the society. She´s quite dangerous, quite Chinese. I like her very much.

AVIVA-Berlin: Mrs Li, the customer of Mei the cook, was a famous actress in TV-serials before marrying a rich man. The husband cheats on her with young women, and to win him back she eats the disgusting meals which promises everlasting youth. Is beauty only a problem of rich people?
If you are too rich, everything is provided to you and you become empty because money can´t give you what love is. Love is in the moment, you have to feel it. You can´t buy feelings. You can’t buy love or gain the love of a man the way she tries it.

AVIVA-Berlin: The age of Mrs. Li isn´t clear in the film. The spectator doesn´t know her real age. Even though her age seems to be her problem. Why?
I think it´s ironic. And the director of the subject of the movie has seen it as a symbol. Everybody is concerned about beauty, and plastic surgery is widespread.

AVIVA-Berlin: I much admired your dress at the Berlinale with the butterfly here at the decolleteé. Do you remember it?
(Laughs) Yes, sure.

AVIVA-Berlin: And you often have butterflies in your hair and on your skin. What connection do you have with a butterfly?
(Laughs) I like butterflies. They are beautiful and so vulnerable. I´ve learned about them that they only live a few days. They haven´t much future, so they must live in the moment. They must enjoy the moment of life. That´s the way I live. Like a butterfly in every moment of life. A butterfly has an own spirit. A beautiful spirit. They have to disappear after a short time. I like animals like birds and butterflies very much.

AVIVA-Berlin: The main topic of the film is beauty. The women in the film battle against the loss of it. They even eat a foetus to reach everlasting youth. What is beauty for you?
For me the nature is beauty. To live in the moment is beauty. It´s the soul of the person which is beauty. You have to accept the change of the nature. It´s a circle, the whole life is a circle. I don´t have fears to become old. It´s okay to become old, to get wrinkles. It´s a part of life. You have to accept yourself, be yourself. Then you are beautiful. I don´t do anything for my beauty. I don´t trust such things like cosmetics. They don´t have any use.

AVIVA-Berlin: I´m interested in the book you´re writing about your experiences in Tibet ...
It´s about my experiences in Tibet. When I was a fourteen year-old girl I went there with the army. I was in the theatre group. I´m on page three hundred and something. I haven´t enough time in the moment to write. But I feel it´s towards the end. It was very cruel there and very beautiful at the same time. I had a lot of experiences in Tibet. I was young and felt in love. I can see the colours - when I served in Tibet everything was brown, the dust was brown. I remember the clouds. The title of the book is: A Cloud falling from the sky: Dreams of Tibet.

AVIVA-Berlin: Do you want to publish it?
I´m not worrying about looking for a publisher. I think it would be easy to find someone. (Laughs) I have first to finish it.

AVIVA-Berlin: "Dumplings" was shot by the great camera man Christopher Doyle. Famous for his works for the film director Wong Kar-wai, especially "In the mood for love" which brought him prizes, e.g. one in Cannes. He´s also a photographer and has had exhibitions in different countries. How is it to work with him?
He has always two cameras with him. Black and white, very old cameras. He makes photos all the time. (Laughs)

AVIVA-Berlin: What’s your relationship with the camera?
I´m not playing. In the moment the film is shot I´m the person. I feel secure with the camera. The camera doesn´t hurt you. The camera loves me. I love the camera. I like it.
When I made the film "Red Corner" with Richard Gere he asked me: Why are you not nervous at all? You seems to be so secure." And I said: "I am secure. Why should I have fear? I trust the camera."
In that moment when the camera was going I lived the life of Mei. It´s not acting for me. I´m shy in the bottom of my soul. I´m a traditional Chinese girl when I have sex with my boyfriend, I cancel the light. But I have a soul in me who wants to be sexy when I go to a party.

AVIVA-Berlin: What are your dreams for the future?
I live in the moment. I don´t have any dreams. I really don´t have any dreams. I don´t worry about the future.

AVIVA-Berlin: And what are your next projects?
I will make some films. And will make a Chinese film too. And a sex film.
(As she said the last sentence Bai Ling lowered her head and gave me a penetrating look with her deep brown eyes ... .)

Read more about the film at and AVIVA-Berlin

Women + Work

Beitrag vom 31.07.2005