Macau (MNA) – Veteran Chinese director Chen Kaige told Macau News Agency (MNA) on Thursday that communication between directors and authorities is better now than it was in the 1980’s and 1990’s when he directed classics such as Farewell My Concubine or Yellow Earth, which focused on difficult and arduous times in Chinese history.
The director was interviewed during the 2018 International Film Festival and Awards Macau (IFFAM), where he is the main competition Jury President.
“In the past, let’s say 25 years, what you could have received was only a piece of paper [with directions], but now you’re going to receive a call from the authority wanting to talk to you about a movie. Meaning it is a start to communication. The people who are in charge of the business and the filmmakers themselves have a better relationship than before. We can talk, we can argue. Everybody notices and realises that no one wants to do something against society,” Kaige said.
However, the director considered that he did not believe that his 1993 Cannes winner Farewell my Concubine could not have been made nowadays mostly because of a change in historic perspective.
“I think times have changed, you can only do the things that time allows you to do […] Because [with time] you have very different points of view and have a different perspective. You see the connections between the different periods of time. You know how you can combine them to make it work,” the director added.
The director admits that his more classic films, together with those of his friend and colleague Zhang Yimou – Raise the Red Lantern – brought the kind of Western interest and attention that maybe current Chinese movies fail to attract.
“I think that Western people including the film critics knew nothing about Chinese cinema. Probably, they didn’t even know there was a cinema in China. So many film critics went to Hong Kong and watched Yellow Earth. I think that’s historical. Maybe there was curiosity about a country they did not know before,” he said today.
Kaige stated that China is a country where the cinema market is growing bigger and stronger than before but that he could not explain why Westerners seemed to be paying less attention to the Chinese cinema.
When asked if current Chinese movies might be seen by Western audiences as too commercial, Kaige states that he himself has “nothing against commercial movies” and that in a competitive market such as the Chinese cinema market, “you always have to make sure a film makes money and can make investors happy.”
“I think we can still create an atmosphere for young people to feel comfortable with themselves. Help them build up their self-confidence. That’s why I’m here [at IFFAM]. There are always dreamers, young filmmakers wanting to do something really interesting. As the situation becomes harder, they need to raise money, they need to make sure they are allowed to shoot a movie that way. It’s very complicated,” he added.