For filmmakers, freedom is a verb. My thirty years of filmmaking have been accompanied by flowers and pitfalls. I fell into those pitfalls many times and managed to climb out. I have been practicing and advocating ‘First Person Film’ for over ten years now. The film notes I have written along the way discuss my own work, as well as films by others which I feel the urge to write about. The former is like looking at myself digging; the latter is one tree glancing at another tree.
The “Image Production” workshop is one of the creative trainings conducted by the Folk Memory Project group of Caochangdi Workstation. A new round of workshops will start in January 2021, with the theme “Image Writing”.
“Shao Images” was established because “Shao Yuzhen’s way of filming determines the composition of the film”. Her so-called “editing” means simply putting original footage through editing software.
At the beginning of the film Self-Portrait with Three Women, a dancer holding a flashlight walks into the rehearsal hall. In the next scene, the camera captures the dancer’s face through her legs. She is saying: ‘This is my first dance work and a work related to myself. The name of the work is Self Portrait.’
I have never watched Sha Qing’s previous films. Lone Existence is the first one I watched. It belongs to the kind of bold work which does not conform to “characters”, “events” and “conflicts” in conventional documentaries. “Story” is completely unbounded and in a style of self-talking.
Caochangdi Workstation launched China Village Documentary Project in 2005. Ten villager filmmakers from nine provinces were selected from the applications and each completed a film about their villages on their own. By 2010, Shao Yuzhen, Jia Zhitan, Zhang Huancai, and Wang Wei have been shooting, and each of them has completed three feature films.
Around 2000, I returned to Kunming, bought a house outside the city, and took my mother to live there. The old house in the city has been vacant from then on. In the summer of 2007, my 88-year-old mother passed away. After taking care of my mother’s funeral, I returned to my hometown at No. 6 Shangyi Street. I went back to the old house to look for the proof of grave ownership of my father who died 18 years ago and to arrange joint tomb for my parents.