News from the Locarno Festival

The Laundryman

Chung Lee, director of “The Laundryman”



Chung Lee, The Laundryman is your first feature film, and it screened yesterday in Locarno for its World Premiere, in front of thousands of people. How does it feel?

It's very exciting, but I was also a bit scared. The film opens in Taiwan in a week, so this is the first time ever that an audience saw it, and I also had not seen the final product after I finished it. It's such a big screen!

How did you come up with the original idea for the film ?

The story began with one simple concept : I wanted to do a story about a killer, but one where the audience could like the main character and identify with him. And how do you make an audience symphatize with a killer ? That's when I first thought about using the ghosts. And then I decided to add the love story as well, so it became a mix of genres.

Do the ghosts have to do with spirituality?

Yes, but more of an ethical belief than a religious one. The ghosts are the symbol of his conscience, and the same time they add a comical element to the story. I tried to make the ghosts very human in this film.

What about the Taiwanese release?

The film will open in 85 screens – it is a general commercial release for an independent action picture. When we found a budget for the project we were conscious in trying to make a film that would appeal to audiences.

As a first time filmmakers, who inspired you, and what were your models for The Laundryman ?

I would say the Coen Brothers, but at the same time no one knows how to write dialogue like the Coen Brothers. Another film that comes to mind is Leon – The Professional,  and the cinema of Luc Besson in general. And then my greatest inspiration is Taiwanese filmmaker Edward Yang – even if this film cannot be directly associated with his work, he is my role model as a director.

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