ONCE UPON A TIME PROLETARIAN
This film started while I was preparing and shooting a fiction film – which at that time was called La Chinoise, and became She, a Chinese. As I kept looking at the main actress’s face and trying to make her beautiful, I started to feel an urge to clash realities. I needed to film the dusty faces of the street, the curious and amazed faces of the peasants gathering to watch us make our film, frame in those sunken eyes and crazed laughs, and record their sighs and silences too. I wanted the dusty reality to be seen, rather than to be cleared out from the camera field.
In this film, there are many faces and voice. They are like archives documenting our history and our present. And as much as they reveal about the ancient hardship of the Chinese peasant, they also show the newly gained material desire, the cold-hearted indifference towards social responsibility, resonating with New China Nation's desire to be a leading part of the global capitalist landscape.
So I feel sorrowful, disillusioned and even despaired for those people who I am familiar with. And as much as I love my country, I hate how a small individual’s inner emotion can be totally kidnapped by a hard society so that eventually that person can no longer recognize his or her own emotion.
I grew up in a village among illiterate people. Eventually, I left them for a bigger dream. Perhaps, I see my mission not so much as a writer/filmmaker, but rather as a kind of Don Quixote insisting on maintaining the idea of the intellectual, the reflective mind – concept lost somewhere in the 70's. When I walk around and encounter those faces, I feel a social responsibility to give the voices of the low and anonymous people, to show their sadness and longings when they gaze at my camera.
I wanted this film to show a particular period of our country, following China’s dramatic revolutions – Communist Revolution in 1940s and ongoing Economic Revolution since the 1980s. As a filming method : an anti-climax camera picking up and documenting each dusty, warm, sorrowful, and sometimes even innocent face in the film.
Between the chapters, children are reading from comic books, or we simply see those children’s faces – somehow I want them to tell me something about the future, not only of China, but also of our world, which has its beauty, brutality and mostly its banality.
Through the film, I try to evoke a feeling of birth of an unimaginable future, birth from the grotesque, birth of the hope of people longing for a new order and an inner truth opposing collective melancholy.
© Xiaolu Guo / Chapter Two Films
© 2004 - 2009 Xiaolu Guo