At 28, Chou Chou is already an internationally recognized film director. Born of the Dong minority ethnic group in Guizhou province, Southwestern China, Chou grew up in a society that holds high values for culture and tradition. These values gave her the zeal to tell the world about the beauty of the Chinese culture, exposing the goodness and truth that lie underneath the cultural values. And so, in 1998, she decided to venture into film production and after working on the scripts for 7 years, Chou formally made her first steps in directing films in 2005.
Today, having completed her university studies in performing arts, vocalization, camera language, film appreciation, and foreign culture among other fields, Chou has grown into a dynamic film Director. One of her films: Close to the Sun has given her international recognition, as it has been shortlisted for the Sedona International Film Festival in the United States, where she is scheduled to exhibit it to the American public next month.
In an interview with The 4th Media’s Manzie Vincent Doh in Beijing, Chou emphasized that the message in her films revolves around truth, goodness, beauty, and love of people of all cultures in the world. Excerpts:
Q. When did you begin film making?
I formally began my first film in April 2005. But before that, I had worked on the scripts for 7 years – since 1998.
Q. What inspired you into film making?
Many people have asked me this question. Actually, it had never occurred to me to make films since my Childhood. Maybe getting into film making was predestined. Something fate decided. When I was young, I just wanted to be a scientist, because at that time, I went to Beijing and visited the Planetarium. I was very much impressed. I was also influenced by textbooks on science. So in my childhood I just dreamt of becoming a scientist and never thought about engaging in making films. So I think it’s amazing.
Q. How do you choose the subject matter for your films?
All the stories of my films are obtained from the place where I grew up. Because I was brought up in Dong village, my hometown, and I was deeply influenced by the culture of this place which won my heart and soul. So I decided to portray the things I learnt and inherited from my hometown. In this way, I can carry what I see and feel in my culture, from my hometown to the public. Thus, I can make it possible for everyone to see and feel my hometown and ethnic culture.
Q. Are the Chinese people happy with what your films choose to project?
They are very excited, especially the people living in the cities and towns. By watching my films, people living in the cities are affected, and are filled with nostalgia of that kind of pure and simple life as portrayed in my films. This is what they want. Maybe, the simple and pure life is like a paradise, and watching my films gives people this feeling.
Q. What have you so far achieved through your films?
Maybe, many things, because in the beginning, my major goal was to record the cultural heritage of our people, and to raise awareness for the protection of our ethnic legacy. I hope to expand the influence of my films which could also help me to set up my own funds for film making.
Q. What key values do you uphold in your films?
My films are not the so-called commercial films. The expenditures of my first and second film have been recovered. In my view, the most significant thing in my films is to express love, truth, goodness, and beauty, and help people learn more about other people’s cultures, to let people accept different cultures, and pay particular attention to ethnic cultures. Money is not the driving force behind my films, and I am not out to amass wealth through my films.
Q. Are you satisfied with what your films have achieved?
There are many things I didn’t expect when I began film production. But what I have gained is something unexpected. It’s really amazing.
Q. One of your films has as title: Close to the Sun. What message were you trying to pass across in this film?
I hoped this title could express love and a kind of psychological satisfaction. When I was thinking about how to name this film, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe sometimes we will have the same feeling when we look at the sun. No matter what, the sun is always there. The sunshine passes through the clouds, shinning and warming us. So I thought that no matter which corner of the world we live, no matter what difficulties we encounter, as long as we have sunshine in our hearts, nothing can make us to worry or be sad. This kind of mind frame gives long life, and hope for a bright future. I hope everyone’s mind frame is like the sun above the clouds in life. The sun is there, no matter how heavy or thick is the cloud beneath, the sun reaches us. The sun in our hearts makes our hearts bright and filled with love.
Q. How well is this film known out of China?
This film has already been chosen as ‘China 2011 international publicity films’. The film will be provided to Chinese Embassies and Consulates all over the world. It will be screened at the reception desks and many other international publicity activities. More people will watch it. By the way, I’m going to the United States of America next month, because the film has been shortlisted for the Sedona International Film Festival. Many more Americans will watch it, including university students from San Francisco and Chicago. We will talk with the audience after the show.
Q. Do you feel happy as a film director?
Yes, I do. I think no matter who you are, especially a young person, as long as he/she is doing what he/she wants, it’s always a feeling of happiness, despite some bitterness and fatigue along the process.
Q. If you were not a film director, what will you be doing?
If I was not engaged in film making, I would stay in the remote village of Dong and learn something from those old folk musicians and song masters. I think I will be there to inherit the traditions and culture from these people and pass down what I have learnt through out my life to the children of the village from generation to generations.
Q. What message do you have for the public?
We should live hand in hand, irrespective of language, color, race or nationality. I think our hearts are connected to each other’s in the world. I truly hope that this world can be filled with truth, goodness and beauty.
* Xie Si Cong transcribed the video interview of this story.
* The photos in this report are from search engine: Google.