Cheng Yu on „Qin mi“/ interview

Born in Jinan, China in 1996, he began creating films while at college, then took a degree in directing at the Beijing Film Academy and is now an independent filmmaker.

What was your starting point for “Qin Mi”?

At first, I wanted to film a story about a girl during the summer after she graduated from high school. Her father left her early, and her mother went away for some reasons, so she had to stay with her aunt. I intended to tell the story of her experiences during this period and let it be the bridge to connect her with her mother and her father, who are long gone. Of course, the final story doesn’t go in that direction, but these above-mentioned intentions still remain as the set and background historyof characters.

During the preparation of the film, I came across Yoshiharu Tsuge’s manga and was struck by its depictions of dejected young men in intimate relationships. What’s more, I was impressed with a novel by Peng Jianbin, a Chinese writer, which also describes the relationship between men and women. I like it so much that I even use its opening sentence as a blurb for my movie, which says „Degenerate sons and daughters / Life really takes care of you / It brings you a life of love.“

Anyway, my interest shifted and I wanted to change story’s timeline. Therefore, now it takes place when the girl is in an intimate relationship and her mother is coming to visit her. However, with such a change, the original ethereal atmosphere of the film suddenly became too realistic. I didn’t want the film to give such a feeling, so I tried to find some way to break through.

One day when we were rehearsing, the actress who played the mother left, and I tried to fill in the blanks by having the leading actor and actress rehearsing the role of mother, and it was surprisingly interesting, so we changed the script, and it ended up being the story of‘Qin Mi’, which means ‘Intimacy’.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

My favorite part is the one where they sit in the living room and the two of them take turns playing the role of the mother.

As I said earlier, the format of playing was a big surprise. And this scene was the one where we discovered this form during rehearsal, and the reason why I like it the most is that it gave me a feeling of a certain kind of game. It was so free, out of control. We shot this scene last. After the run-in of the previous shooting, the performance of the actors here surprised me. Most of the lines were finished by the actors impromptu, and I also kept the part of their laughter. It made me laugh, too. The relationship in this scene is much more fluid and ambiguous, which is an improvisational atmosphere that I love.

What do you like about the short form?

I think short films are very free, can do all kinds of experiments without having too much pressure. I was able to explore a variety of styles in short films, and of course a feature film might also be possible to do this, but short films gave me the opportunity to continue making films at this stage, and also to look back at my life in time.

Short films may allow the existence of some problems in form and structure. These problems may not prevent them from becoming good films, but they will make me understand some of my own defects, which may be the reason why short films convey a certain sense of playing game and studying.

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