|Experiencing life feels like inhaling fresh air. It’s not like you take a book, read a chapter, and you’ve gained this or that.|
Experiencing life feels like inhaling fresh air. It’s not like you take a book, read a chapter, and you’ve gained this or that. For me, I might go read a book on a haystack in the countryside, and then I get in the zone, experience that daydream. This daydream is actually another way of taking something “out of context,” and the book is merely a catalyst. I think it allows, for a brief instant, one to rise to an ever-so-slightly higher state.
With regard to filmmaking, I think there’s no way to find out about a Chinese style—I don’t know what a Chinese style is; this is something very difficult to define. I can only say that I grew up in a Chinese environment, and I use my own perspective and experiences, including some things that I learned from school; in fact, all of it comes from this context. These things are inescapable, whether they are called traditional or modern. There’s really no way to explain. You just keep going, and that includes your life at this moment. I think you can only keep on working and follow your heart. If there’s such a thing as a Chinese style, then it’s keeping it simpler, respecting yourself, and doing what you want to do in the context where you grew up. If you can do that—respect your own context—then that’s quite good.
I think there might be another kind of film, one that’s more open. I haven’t found an accurate name for this kind of film, so for now let’s say “abstract film.” The abstract film is not like Western abstract art, where some random brush strokes and formless objects become an abstract painting. I think it should be an unusual film that taps into the minds of the audience. I dislike, more and more, standard feature films or standard documentaries. When I watch them, a lot of them make me feel like I’m enduring them, or even wasting my time. I feel that once the films are over, it’s like a library with a lot of books, while you may not have time to read each one, even if you do read every book, you don’t necessarily become a learned person. So I hope that those who participate in filmmaking have an independent creative consciousness and their own standards, and that they know what kind of movies they should make. This, perhaps, is especially important. As to the difference between abstract films and conventional films, it’s a little like the experimental film that everybody has been talking about for many years. Abstract films should be like experimental films, but with even more tension. They can be watched 20 years earlier or 20 years later, and still possesses that moving power, not like a pop song that drops out of the chart once it’s old.
To me, actually, a film is sometimes something that deceives people. It can turn rumors into realities. Regardless of the great ideals, entertainment value, or all kinds of other elements there might be, a film controls or influences people’s thinking, which is why films are popular. The feeling is, if you want to go make a film, then you must respect the film, and this respect comes from self-respect. But sometimes it could be quite hypocritical. It’s something you can ponder, but never fully figure out.
The text is adapted from an interview conducted by Zhang Ya-Xuan with Yang Fu-Dong, previously published in Contemporary Art and Investment, September 2007.