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La regista cinese Emily Tang sfida la censura.

Posted by Simona Maggiorelli su aprile 14, 2013

Perfect life

Perfect life

Nel pluripremiato film Perfect life – che nel 2008 a Venezia l’ha fatta conoscere anche al pubblico italiano – la regista cinese Emily Tang raccontava due personaggi femminili agli antipodi: una contadina delle campagne più povere della Cina che lotta per sopravvivere e una giovane che si vende come modella e accompagnatrice a Hong Kong, in cambio di una vita agiata. In questo piccolo capolavoro cinematografico  le discrasie della Cina post maoista sono riassunte in una sintesi potente e suggestiva. E la censura cinese non glielo ha mai perdonato. Ma da Hong Kong Emily Tang è riuscita a continuare il suo lavoro, che mette a fuoco le contraddizioni più brucianti della Cina di oggi.

«Nei decenni passati la rapida crescita economica ha portato moltissimi cambiamenti», racconta Emily, fra gli ospiti dell’Asian Film Festival che si è svolto dal 6 all’11 aprile a Reggio Emilia. «I cinesi erano abituati a vivere in un sistema sociale stagnante, conservatore, autocentrato. Affrontare questi repentini cambiamenti, correre per recuperare il ritardo, cercare di adattarsi alla nuova situazione, per molti è difficile. Ci si scopre passivi, non si ha chiaro lo scopo di questi sconvolgimenti».

Quali sono gli anelli più deboli della società in questa corsa?
Le donne soffrono molto questa accelerazione. Tradizionalmente erano loro a occuparsi della casa, dei figli, della cucina. Poi, negli anni Ottanta del secolo scorso, milioni di donne hanno lasciato le terre d’origine per cercare lavoro altrove. Proprio come le due protagoniste di Perfect life. Dalla misera campagna alle città ricche, pagandone il prezzo e le difficoltà. Con il rischio di idealizzare il passato come “ vita perfetta” . Un posto come Shenzhen, vicino ad Hong Kong, per molti è stato il miraggio da inseguire. Perciò ho girato lì la sparatoria finale del mio film. Oggi Shenzen ha una popolazione di 12 milioni di persone. Più di 10 sono immigrati da aree poverissime e il 70 per cento di loro sono donne. Senza questa immensa forza lavoro Shenzen non sarebbe mai passata, in pochi decenni, da villaggio di pescatori a megalopoli. Tutto il merito è andato alla politica di apertura di Deng Xiaoping e nessuno parla di queste lavoratrici. Lasciano i loro figli al Paese, soffrono la solitudine e lottano per sopravvivere in una città caotica. Con la telecamera ho cercato di cogliere il loro mondo interiore, ignorato da tutti. Sono orgogliosa che siano diventate le “eroine” del mio film».

All Apologies

All Apologies

Nel suo nuovo film All Apologies racconta il dramma di Yunzhen, maltrattata dal marito per aver perso un figlio. Un nuovo capitolo della ricerca sull’identità femminile?
Per trent’anni la Cina ha sostenuto la politica del figlio unico, per controllare la crescita della popolazione. Ma  i problemi più seri sono sorti per il modo spesso disumano con cui la polizia ha costretto le donne ad abortire e a farsi sterilizzare. Yunzhen rappresenta queste vittime: vive da sola con un figlio, senza il marito al fianco per lunghi periodi. Mentre lui è via, subisce un intervento di sterilizzazione. Ma la tragedia scoppia quando muore il figlio, che era tutto per lei. Il marito, tornato a casa, scopre che lei non può più partorire e reagisce con violenza. Più dell’intervento subito, sono i valori tradizionali e  una cultura retrograda a mandarla in pezzi.

Però alla fine del film Yunzhen trova il coraggio di chiedere il divorzio…
Mentre giravo questa parte del film ero emozionatissima, mi sentivo partecipe, sapevo quanto fosse difficile per Yunzhen prendere quella decisione, ma speravo che il mio personaggio avrebbe trovato il coraggio di dire addio alla tristezza e allo sfruttamento.

In una società atea come quella cinese lontana dalla condanna cristiana del desiderio femminile, il rapporto fra uomo e donna è più libero e paritetico?
La cultura cinese è priva di un fondo religioso, ma ha subìto per più di due millenni un sistema feudale e patriarcale. Se una donna restava vedova non poteva risposarsi. Anche se questa usanza è scomparsa il sessismo è ancora dilagante. Ora è tempo che le donne prendano in mano il proprio destino. Questo è il messaggio che ho voluto dare nei miei film.

La regista Emily Tang

La regista Emily Tang

Il suo stile è fantasioso, evocativo. E conserva un forte rapporto con la realtà. Come ha trovato questa un cifra così originale?
Fare film è sempre stato il mio sogno. Sul set seguo il mio istinto, senza esitazioni. Diversamente dalla maggior parte dei miei colleghi non esco da una scuola di cinema. Mi sento libera da fardelli teorici. E ammiro maestri come Edward Yang, Antonioni e Angelopoulos.

Perché la censura cinese teme i suoi film?

Non mi curo molto della censura. Se hai un’idea, se hai qualcosa da dire, alla fine nessuno ti può fermare. Dieci anni fa girai Conjugation sentendo l’urgenza di farlo, ed è questa esigenza di esprimermi che conta, anche se in Cina quel film è ancora all’indice. Con All Apologies la faccenda è più complicata. Non possiedo i diritti. Per farlo uscire ho dovuto modificare un paio di frasi nei dialoghi.
Il Premio Nobel Mo Yan ha detto che la censura, alla fine, è stata l’occasione per sviluppare il proprio talento…
Ciascuno ha il suo modo di trattare con la censura. Ma non mi piace la condotta di Mo Yan. È inevitabile fare i conti con le limitazioni imposte dal potere. Ma non non si può certo dire che sia la condizione ideale.
Un artista come Ai Weiwei, intanto. continua a denunciare la violazione dei diritti umani in Cina. Che ne pensa?
Lo apprezzo moltissimo.

E’ già alle prese con una nuova opera?
Ho appena finito di girare un docudrama che parla dell’unica concessione commerciale italiana in Estremo Oriente, quella di Tianjin, che è rimasta in vigore tra il 1900 e il 1947. Per lunghi anni è stato una sorta di tabù parlare di come vivevano in queste aree i ricchi occidentali mentre noi eravamo poveri. L’unica parola che usavamo per descrivere  quella situazione era imperialismo. Ora, dopo aver vissuto uno sviluppo “ad alta velocità”, la Cina non è più umile come una volta. Ed è pronta a rivedere la propria storia in una prospettiva più ampia.

da left-avvenimenti

Chinese filmaker Emily Tang against censorship

Perfect life

Perfect life

In Perfect life you “compared” the stories of two very different women, who have many problems of identity and autonomy unresolved. In recent years something has changed for women in China? And in Hong Kong?

 

In the past decades, the rapid economic growth of China has brought a lot of changes to people’s way of living. Chinese people used to live in a stagnated, conservative and self-sufficient social system for such a long period of time. While facing such rapid changes, many peoples find it difficult to adapt to new situation. In the middle of the process, we may be consciously trying to catch up with all these changes, but finally we find out that we are actually in a very passive position, we even confused the purpose of all these changes, or is it worth the pursuit on the origin of our departure.I believe Chinese women suffer even more under such social changes. In the past, their natural duties would be farming, give birth, cooking and housework. In the 1980’s, millions of women left their land and went out for jobs, just like the two women characters in my film PERFECT LIFE. You can treat them as one person, working hard to fight for a better life, but eventually they no longer recognize their own meaning. Move from the poor area to an expensive city, they have to pay the cost and endure the pain. They have to keep struggle without turn back to seek for a imagined “perfect life”. A place called Shenzhen conveys such common dream. It is the shooting place of my film’s ending, near Hong Kong, which is referred as the world’s factory. It has a population of twelve million, over 10 million of them are the migrant workers from the poor area over the big country, and among all these workers nearly 70 percent are women. Without this huge work force, Shenzhen is impossible to change from a small fishing village into a megacity in a few decades. All the glory and merit belongs to the success of opening policy implemented by leader Deng Xiaoping, but who really care about the women workers. They leave their children in the poor countryside, endure loneliness and struggle to survive in a messy city. I attempt to use my camera and capture their inner world being ignored. I am very pleased that they become the hero in my film.

 

All apologies

All apologies

Your new film All Apologies tells the drama of Yunzhen. Is It a new chapter in your cinematographic research on the identity of women?

 

China has implemented the one-child policy for three decades in order to control population growth. This is a matter of last resort. But serious problem arise due to the inhuman way in executing the policy, the officers very often against the will of women, forced them to receive abortion or sterilization. Yunzhen is a representative of victims, I am concerned about the kind of women she lived with her child in the hometown without the presence of husband for long period of time. In accordance with the policy, she has a boy and loses the right to give birth another child. Forced ligation surgery will be implemented to her by the village officers. The two men (a husband and a son) in the family become her everything. But her world collapsed after the son died, especially when the husband learnt that she cannot give birth anymore. Although it is a tragedy caused by a traffic accident, but then we see that the traditional values and demand upon her is the actual force to tease her apart. I have deep sympathy for the character Yunzhen, at the end of the movie, Yunzhen sent a text message to her husband and ask for a divorce. While writing this scene, I was very excited. In accordance with the logic of the character, it must be very difficult for her to make this decision, but I hope my character will say goodbye to sadness and exploitation. In fact, the role of Qiaoyu is most crucial in the film to reveal inequality problem. After the traffic accident, when Yonggui broke into her room and rape her to reproduce a new life to him, she made a seemingly only the oriental women can do under such social context: the surrogate. It is also become the solution for her in order to have the money to pay for the surgery she simply cannot afford for her injured husband. This is a game that I imagined most distorted, the most painful, but the most well-intentioned fertility; or simply a woman to borrow her body for the salvation of others. Some might say that this is not necessary, why not ask for help from law enforcement bodies to protect themselves? I have to say, in China, the laws usually protect bigwigs. If you are the one without much education, struggling at the bottom of society, you don’t have much option after you are in trouble or badly ill. After Qiaoyu’s husband learnt that she give birth a son for Yonggui, he make a decision to take away their only daughter as her lifetime punishment. The scenes are act perfectly and with convinced most Chinese audience. I am hoping to express that in a male-dominated society, men’s selfishness and narrow-mindedness will come out without much constraint.

 

 Monotheistic religions for centuries have oppressed women, painting them like the devil. We imagine that Chinese culture, more secular, offers the possibility of a free and equal relationship between man and woman . Is that right? Wich are the problems in China?

Chinese cultural context is in lack of the sense of religion like Christianity. China built up a rigid feudal system for over two thousand years. The ethics of feudal society has always been patriarchal, for instance, in the past after the man die, his wife cannot remarried. Although this kind of practice is no longer retained, but sexist value still exist and commonly practice in every aspect of our society. Women should take over their own fate, this is the underlying theme in all my past films.

 

 Your way of making films is both poetic and attentive to the reality. How did you find your own way? Did you have some directors, some models, that inspired you?

 

I always comply with my heart to make films, seems like a voice telling me I should make this film and should handle the subject matters this way. I make use of my impulse and basic instincts without hesitation. Unlike most of the film directors in China, I am not professionally trained as filmmaker in film school. I did not study any film genre or theory seriously. Start from the very beginning, I am free of burden. I admire Edward Yang, Antonioni and Angelopoulos.

 

 What Chinese censorship feared about your films?

 

I do not take China’s censorship system seriously. If there is a story or an ideas that you really want to make it into film, I don’t think anyone can stop you. The authority never stop us from shooting a film. I made my first film CONJUGATION ten years ago impelled by strong passion, now it is still black-listed by the authority and cannot be public release in China. ALL AP OLOGIES is a bit complicated, unlike the past films I made, I did not own the copyrights. In order to release the film, I made one modifications: two dialogue lines of Yunzhen were redubbed in order to blur her passiveness for receiving forced ligation surgery.

 

Il premio Nobel Mo Yan

Il premio Nobel Mo Yan

Recently, the Nobel Prize Mo Yan said that the censorship forced him to find a more complex, allusive, fantastic styke in writing. What do you think?

 

All Chinese authors and creators have their thought and have their own way to deal with censorship. I do not appreciate the attitude of Mo Yan. Although all of us have to face the same censorship issue, we cannot think the situation now is as it should be.

 

 Ai Weiwei never gets tired of denouncing the situation of human rights in China . Which is your point of view?

 

I respect him a lot.

 

 Is Art an universal language that allows you to communicate strong contents beyond national barriers?

 

Yes, this is one of the reason I was obsessed with Art. An interesting experience is that I travelled a lot to many difference places due to shooting or presenting my films, in turn, it expanded how I watch the world and myself, and then influenced my films.

 

 Are you working to a new film project?

 

I just finish shooting a docudrama and now in postproduction status. It is about the past Italian concession in Tianjin, China. That concession was setup from 1900 until 1947, the only concession in the Far East in Italy’s history. For many years, it is a taboo for the Chinese people to talk about the details of how Westerners lived in the concessions during that humble period. We only imply a term “imperialism” to describe the whole. While experienced such high-speed economic development, China is not humble anymore, I think it is time for us to review the history with a broader scope. (Simona Maggiorelli)

From the italian weekly magazine Left-avvenimenti

 

 

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