An Interview with Wang Erzhuo (Director)
A Lasting Record of Love in Our Daily Lives
Q: What inspired you to film your aunt and the people around her?
WE: People in the younger generation have become uninterested in the people around them, and tend to think only of their own pleasures. By making this documentary and filming the people I love, I wanted to focus my attention on the people around me and discover a new world for myself. Through this filming, my aunt helped me change the way I see the world. I filmed the young women who worked in her beauty parlor because their way of life was very new and fresh to me. In some ways, I think that their way of living may echo that of my own aunt when she was young.
Q: Did you discover hope in the thought of “living a normal life”?
WE: If that is what my documentary conveyed to you, then I am very glad. People in China today are very busy. They are stretched to their limit in their daily lives, overwhelmed with earning money, work, and their children. As a result, I feel that the warmth the Chinese people have traditionally possessed has slowly begun to evaporate. In times of rapid change and development, people everywhere have a tendency to lose sight of what is important as they get caught up in the busyness of the moment. My aunt, on the other hand, has managed to stay true to herself during even her most difficult times, and she leads a very charming existence. She has sought to find happiness, and she and the people around her watch over and love each other. She has lived her life with a strong determination to be happy, and that is what I find inspiring.
Q: The Chinese title of your film translates as South of the Clouds. Can you explain the meaning behind this title?
WE: It of course refers to China’s Yunnan (literally, “south of the clouds”) Province, where the film takes place, but it also embodies the image of a “beautiful place far in the distance.” I have very beautiful memories of spending the summer with my aunt and the people around her, and one day, I suddenly realized that this “beautiful place in the distance” was actually right here next to me. As long as you cherish those who are close to you, you don’t have to travel far away to be “south of the clouds.”
Q: Can you tell us about your next project?
WE: I have already begun filming my next documentary. This time, I am filming the family of an uncle on my mother’s side, and it is the story of another family I love. My uncle’s family is an large one, with three generations living together. The problems that exist in China affect people of different generations in different ways. I myself am part of the “Post-90s” generation, which is a generation of the one-child policy. We have no siblings, there will be no aunts or uncles for us in the future, and the extended family will disappear. We are a generation that is mired in loneliness. But we must carve out a life for ourselves in these times, and we must persevere. In this film, I want to document and record the warm bonds of affection that we are allowing ourselves to forget.
(Compiled by Kubota Naho)
Interviewers: Kubota Naho, Nozaki Atsuko / Interpreter: Higuchi Yuko / Translator: Kato Lisa Somers
Photography: Yamaguchi Nobukuni / Video: Yamaguchi Nobukuni / 2013-10-12