Guangzhou’s 广州中华影城 Zhonghua Cinema is running a festival of recent Chinese films, 先锋光芒–中国青年导演电影展映（柏林篇）Ray of the Avante Garde – Chinese Young Film Director’s Festival, from December 26th till January 3rd. Most if not all the films have been available on DVD for some time, but for many it’s the first time they will have been screened in a theatre in their original 35mm format. EastSouthWestNorth translated Director 张元 Zhang Yuan’s blog post on his film 《妈妈》 Mama being selected to open the festival.
The Black and White/Colour film Mama was my debut as a director, finished around my graduation days from the Beijing Film Academy, I was 25 then. A few days ago on December 22, a restored digital copy of Mama made its first-ever public screening in Zhonghua Cinema of Guangzhou. It was chosen as the opening film of a film festival sonorously titled “Ray of the Avant-Garde” by the organizers. It means a lot to me that Southern Metropolis Daily, 21cn and Sensei Cui Qiao helped getting this film a public screening at this moment. The first person that introduced the film to the west is the veteran Hong Kong film critic Shu Kei, he’s also a good director, with films like Soul (Lao Niang Gou Sao) and Queer Story (Jilao Sishi) on his portfolio. I would never forget his help. We are not close to each other by then, but after watching a VHS copy of Mama, he recommended the film to the director of Nante Festival des Trois Continents, who immediately sent me an invitation, and the film entered the competition section. I still remember how Mr. Wong Kar-wai helped stuffing the heavy film reels into his luggage, carefully brought them abroad for me. Only with these people’s help was Mama able to tour the world, getting screened on nearly one hundred film festivals, sometimes as film in competition. In fact, the same copy has been played so many times that it has drastically deteriorated. Thanks to all the friends who have supported me. It’s precisely because of all those western screening that I was able to get grants and fund from various foundations in France, Italy, Switzerland, Japan and Netherlands, which enabled me to realize several more movies afterwards, I would like to express my appreciation to them too.