News from the Locarno Festival

Wang: "Locarno Is The Best To Show Art Films"

Mrs. Fang - Concorso internazionale

Wang: "Locarno Is The Best To Show Art Films"



Wang Bing, after last year's experience in the jury, you have now joyned the Concorso internazionale. What do you remember about the last edition?

Last year, with the members of the panel, we watched all the films in the Concorso together and at the same time we commented upon them personally, because the Locarno Festival always maintains its own style in the selection of films. For the international auteur cinema, Locarno is the best platform to show art films, because here there is an audience, coming from all over the world, which is attentive to every single film that is screened.


Where does your urge to make documentaries come from?

In 1999, when I started working in independent cinema, I chose the documentary path. Since in China there is a rigid system of film censorship, to make independent films it is very difficult to find financial support. So, considering that the costs to shoot a fiction film are very high, my choice towards the documentary has guaranteed me greater freedom to shoot. In addition, at the moment China is currently going through a rapid process of economic change, but its politics remain more conservative and the existential space of the common people in today's society is increasingly reduced. As a result, in China the documentary is the most direct expressive form of this epoch.


In almost all your works, you are paying attention to the humblest side of Chinese people. What drives you to meet these people?

First of all, I would like to clarify that the people I film are not marginalized, but mostly ordinary people. Their life is no cause for concern on the part of traditional Chinese society: they live like ants in every corner of society, but we never get to hear their voices.


How was it meeting Mrs. Fang?

In 2014, I was travelling from Yunnan province to the coastal area of Zhejiang province: there I met the daughter of Mrs. Fang Xiuying, Mrs. Zhen Xiaoying. In 2015, Mrs. Zhen invited me as a guest at her mother's house, and when I saw her mother, her appearance struck me deeply. Afterwards, I took the camera and filmed a portrait of her. Then, I planned to shoot a documentary about her. In 2016, when I learned that Mrs. Fang was seriously ill, I rushed to their house to keep filming her, until her death.


One of the most exciting parts of the film is focused on the theme of the funeral watch, mixed with night fishing scenes. Where did you find the idea to make this amazing combination?

The Zhejiang province is an area where the Chinese economy is fairly developed, but because young people move more and more towards the city, only adults remain in the communal villages. Many lands are abandoned and a region so full of lakes and rivers is likely to become sterile. When Mrs. Fang Xiuying slowly died lying in her bed, only the elderly neighbours came to keep them company, unable to do anything but sigh for the impotence and brevity of life.

Lorenzo Buccella

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