Exclusive Interview with Xue Chao – Film Director
Xue Chao , an award winning director, grew up in Harbin, graduated from Fine Arts Academy of Northeast Normal University in 1990. He began to make video works and direct films in 2013. The short documentary History Disappears Here won the award for Best Documentary at 2017 Great Lakes International Shorts Film Festival. The video work Fire made in 2016 was the finalist in the 13th China Independent Film Festival. What makes a greater achievement for him is that the short documentary Wrapped An Identity Like A Coat made in 2019 was selected by 2020 New York International Filmmaker Festival and was nominated for best shot documentary. As an artist and director, his career dream is to produce several feature films in the future, like those iconic directors such as Tarkovsky, Béla Tar and Wenders, to make immortal works to win more awards at top international film festivals.
NY Glam: How long have you been making films and videos?
I’ve been making films for seven years.
NY Glam: What film was your directorial debut?
My directorial debut was a short documentary Silence and Survival. This film is about the contradiction between common people’s ideal and reality in the process of urbanization. The vulnerable groups can only remain silent.
NY Glam: What is your recent film about?
My latest film Wrapped An Identity Like A Coat is about the identity problem of Chinese-Russian descendants who lived in the Argun River Basin on China-Russia border and boundary problem. Suffering from historical wars, political unrest and the scouring of social changes, this new human community has always been on the margins of society. With vague identity and blurring ethnic origin, they have been in a very awkward situation.
NY Glam: How did you go about casting for the film?
The cast was selected among the local Chinese- Russian descendants. I randomly interviewed some of them and listened to their account of the history.
NY Glam: What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?
I have an experience that is very important to me when shooting films, that is, always shooting and making post-production around the core issues, and then using abstract narrative to provide the audience with the maximum space for thinking. Like Tarkovsky and Béla Tar , I like using non-linear structures and metaphorical lens language to express my concerns and the direct experience of life.Such experience mainly comes from daily reading and my deep concerns about and reflection on social issues.
NY Glam: Tellus a bit about the other films you’ve made and your other projects.
I’d like to talk about my last documentary History Disappears Here which won Best Documentary Award in 2017 at Great Lakes International Shorts Film Festival. It is about the triple conflicts among the development, the protection of cultural relics and people’s livelihood caused by the destruction of history and culture in the process of urbanization.
NY Glam: What role have film festivals played in your life so far?
Film festivals have played an important role in my life. There are many types of film festivals through which we can achieve our ideals, reflect the value of life, let more people pay attention to the common problems faced by human beings, and make the world a better place.
NY Glam: Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?
Well, I think in different stages, I have different problems and challenges to tackle. When I started to make a film out of love, I mainly experienced technical difficulties. Now the technology has become mature, and the key challenges I face are art of the film and the film itself as an art, which may be something I will pursue in life. However hard the road is to travel, I will go on.
NY Glam: How has your style evolved?
My style has not changed much so far. It is slightly dull and oppressive due to the issues and sufferings reflected in my films.
NY Glam: What has been your personal key to success?
I don’t think it is successful. I’d like to call it a step forward. I will make efforts to make more good films and strive for greater achievements. I believe if you have tremendous drive in your mind and insist on shooting , you will succeed someday.
NY Glam: What are you thinking about doing next?
I will be concerned with such issues constantly and we set out to make another documentary about Chinese-Russian descendants. I’m quite ambitious as a filmmaker and I’ll endeavor to make better films in different lens language and expressive forms.
NY Glam: Where does your studio want to go from here?
Making films is a good crutch in my life. I will lead the studio to make better films in return for the film festival which provides us with such a good platform.
Thank you for your interview.