An Interview with Jin Xingzheng (Director)
Following Children Disappearing from Tianmushan
Q: I think the straightforwardness and innocence of the children’s hearts are reflected throughout the entire film. I would like to hear your thoughts, including those about the title Gone.
JX: The film was shot in a village called Tianmushan. The place is blessed by nature so rich that Li Bao was spellbound by the beauty of the mountain range and sang his poetry there. However, living in the village is very inconvenient, and the present situation is that almost all of the inhabitants have left. At the beginning of the film the school in ruins is depicted, and the present situation of the students dwindling is silently shown. This spectacle is synchronized with the time I first saw the village. In Chinese, the word “gone” means to disappear. My fear of the people no longer inhabiting the village and it disappearing through their departure is hinted at.
Q: The camerawork reflecting the children gives a different impression than other scenes. What is the number one thing you were thinking at the time?
JX: I essentially film by myself. So except in special cases, I fix cameras when filming to be able to record steadily. But when I want to film the hearts of the children, I try hard to move holding the camera myself in order get close to the children. When I’m recording, too, I try as much as possible to capture the people with warm feelings and a soft gaze. Which is to say, I don’t want to damage the original image of the subjects. For example, there is a scene where a child is carrying a blue umbrella and running back to her mother who is picking tea leaves. If I had carried a camera around and filmed while moving, it would have altered the truth. There is the danger of giving the impression that this child was not alone. So in using a stationary camera and a pull back shot, I wanted to express the loneliness and quite in the middle of the mountains where the mother and child were.
Q: There was a series of scenes that reflect the young boy, Qiu Luhong, which were very moving. Would you please talk about these scenes?
JX: I set up three cameras at the time I filmed the young boy. This isn’t something special when trying to capture a subject. Then I heard from Luhong the story of his mother. It was surprising and unexpected for me to see him cry. Luhong’s father was older when he was born, and once Luhong had turned five or six years old, his mother passed away. Luhong said he wanted to become rich because he wanted his father to be happy, and his father was moved by these words. But at the same time, more than this, the words were extremely painful and sad for his mother and father, and I felt this pain within my own heart. It took two years to complete this film. In the final stages of shooting, Luhong’s grandmother passed away and his father moved to another town. In the end, this family had “disappeared” from the mountain village.
Q: This film metaphorically shows the widening gap between urban and rural areas. Who would you like most to see this work?
JX: Although Zhejiang is a province that is affluent, this gap still exists. My original goal in filming was to draw many people’s attention to the present situation of the children through having lots of people watch the film through the Internet, T.V., and other mediums. I hope that people will know the reality and that some sort of social aid can be provided.
(Compiled by Hirai Mona)
Interviewers: Hirai Mona, Harashima Aiko / Interpreter: Higuchi Yuko / Translator: Kat Simpson
Photography: Kano Megumi / Video: Miyata Mariko / 2015-10-09