Hu: Life on the Road
| CHINA / 1999 / Chinese / Color / Video
/ 150 min
Director, Script, Editing, Producer: Wu Wenguang
Photographer: Su Ming
Sound: Li Nin
Production Company , Source: Wu Documentary Studio 4-501, Bingjiaokou
Hutong 79#, Keying Sushe
Beijing 100088 CHINA
Phone: 86-10-62014341 / Fax: 86-10-82085022
Born in Yunnan, China in 1956. Went to the countryside after graduating
from high school in 1974, and worked as an elementary school teacher
for three years. Entered the Department of the Literature at Yunnan
University in 1978, and graduated in 1982. Taught at a junior high
school for three years, and joined a television network in 1985 to
work as a news journalist for four years. Left the TV station in 1989
to become an independent documentary filmmaker and freelance writer.
Documentary films include: Bumming in Beijing-The Last Dreamers
(1990); 1966, My Time in the Red Guards (1993),
Ogawa Shinsuke Prize at YIDFF'93, and At Home in the World (1995).
Winner of the 1993 Ogawa Shinsuke Prize, Wu Wenguang presents
a new video work. A father and son duo persuades fellow villagers
to join a big tent show and go on the road, leaving their traditional
but poor farming community behind. Featuring karaoke pop songs and
young women dancing in bikini outfits, the show travels around various
nondescript suburbs. But with the 50th national anniversary closing
in, government officials are tightening their regulations on show
troupes. Business is bad, local gangsters want a cut of the pie, and
the police hint that they can help, but for a price. The boss hasn't
paid the performers for months, and frustration is rising under the
single tent roof. . .
Jiang hu is a particularly Chinese word, and hence one that is especially
hard to translate. The two Chinese characters denote Ôriver' and Ôlake,'
but the word implies something quite different than a geographic entity.
The word can mean leaving one's familiar turf on a dangerous journey
without any sense of the future, in effect wandering "another life."
Or it can mean being thrown out of home and onto the street. In this
sense, then, the characters in my film are not pursuing a so-called
gypsy existence. Instead, these people who were so anxious to leave
home to follow a life on the road eventually dream of making a lot
of money and returning home, their existence devoid of such romanticism
of the road. Ten years ago, I shot my first fully independent documentary,
Bumming in Beijing - The Last Dreamers. It was the story of five
young artists from the provinces who go to Beijing to pursue their
dreams of art. Now, what fascinates me and what I have chosen to document
is a group of young farmers ... they've left their homes to travel,
pitching tents as they go where they perform their songs and dances.
I think the reason they fascinate me is because our fates have all
been thrown out "onto the street.
COPYRIGHT:Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee