An Interview with Huang Weikai (Director)
Order of Disorder
Director Huang Weikai begins his film by representing big city life in China as being lived under the constant destruction of nature. The chaos of daily life is made into a collage of what happens on the streets, which seems to have its own order. All of the 26 incidents are presented alternately, eventually combining into one story. The director feels that the urban experiences he shows in Guangzhou City share much in common with the urban experiences around the world.
The first thing I realized after watching the film is that the director used only three of his own shots in this film. Most of the footage has been bought from amateur DV camera people who sell their images to TV news outlets. This footage is used to create the director’s distinctive patchwork.
The director shows us the irrational part of society, such as faking a car accident, the selling of bear paws, a man dancing in a busy street, pigs running around in the street, a man committing suicide by jumping into a river, an abandoned baby, and a man diving for fish in a polluted river. The black humor and the way the director tells the story create a vivid film. This film is not about reasons or consequences; Huang Weikai rearranges his own order from the chaos. He weaves an urban symphony by turning the color footage shot by those cameramen into black and white, and also by using different shooting styles of the amateur DV shooters. The editing took him 15 months to finish. In the end, not adding music to the film was best. The result is an impressionistic description that he says reflects fantasies of city life.
Huang Weikai is most concerned with form. This is likely due to his Chinese ink painting background. This has led him to a very intelligent way of fluxing different story lines from diverse shots, people, space and time into the film.
In terms of form, the director feels that it is important that the spirit of experimentation be coupled with what he has learned from Chinese ink painting and literature.
This film’s editing is very powerful due to the director’s method of alternating images and sounds that create excitement. Huang Weikai says that he nearly developed obsessive compulsive disorder while editing this film, becoming fixed on cutting the film to a perfect sixty-one minutes; not one minute more or less. Also while editing the film, he got the idea of incorporating many of the literary techniques from both the Tang and the Sung Dynasty poetry. All of these classic Chinese literary rhetoric are distinct from Western literary traditions, though both the Tang and the Sung poetry share some similarities in that they use comparison, contrast, metaphor, exaggeration, simile and repetition, etc. which were all used in this film. For example, pigs in the road are a metaphor for consciousness and people are shown to be irrational. Huang Weikai says it is all an attempt to get the audience inside the film and react to it. He thinks the most important thing is how the audience would re-edit or re-arrange the film by her/himself.
Three sequences of the film are without sounds because Huang Weikai thinks it is much better in that way. Using the natural sounds contributes to the overall success of the film. I would say he presented the film in an artistic and intelligent way. Reality is the future of the past. Also, a man who grew up in a big city shows reality. There are many ways of showing city life, but he presented it in his own unique way. Again, the way of the editing makes the film become powerful. Every time Huang Weikai makes a documentary, he likes to create different ways from scratch making every possibility with it. I am waiting in anticipation to see what Huang Weikai will show us next.
Interviewers: Hsiao Shu-Yii, Kimuro Shiho
Photography: Ito Ayumi / Video: Suzuki Hiroki / 2009-10-11