A Mask9 Exclusive Interview with Vincent Chui: director of HK Independent Film Festival is back behind the camera

 

A Mask9 Exclusive Interview with Vincent Chui: director of HK Independent Film Festival is back behind the camera

Fig

We had the opportunity to meet the director Vincent Chui after the screening of his last feature "Fig" at China Independent Film Festival, in Nanjing.

Vincent, who is not only a director but even a teacher, a promoter and the artistic director of Hong Kong Independent Film Festival, explained us how did he get to "Fig"' screenplay, the collaboration built with Lui Siu Wah, the past and the future projects.

(►click to enlarge pictures

Vincent ChuiMask9: We appreciated your film and became curious about how you worked over the screenplay. It seems that the collaboration you ran with Lui Siu Wah was a kind of unusual, considering the standard evolution. Could you tell us how did you work with her?

Vincent: It's interesting. Of course she is a very good scriptwriter and she has won the Hong Kong Film Awards; however I believe this is her second screenplay that get released so far, and now she is going to have a third one. Probably this kind of script would not be appreciated by the most of the Hong Kong film directors where most of the Hong Kong film director are drafter film directors.

I've got to know her because I was one of the actors in "The way we are"; she has got the chance to know me (actually lot of person knew her at this time) and she just asked to the producer of "The way we are" to have my email and then she sent me a lot of scripts. Actually she did it all the times, as she sent "The way we are" to Ann Hui.

FigSo she sent them to me and I have found one of them very interesting, not this one. I worked with her on a short film for the Hong Kong Radio Television commission to work (an half an hour episode). After that I have really got chance to know her and I asked her to try to work on another script. However, she did not listen to me and sent her original draft again to me: this time was "Fig" and I just liked it.

So I used to, over the very original one, start working for the funding. In the meantime I felt that the female main character needed to live somewhere else: and I have just realize that in Hong Kong everywhere looks more or less the same; so, I picked Macau. Then, I started looking for funding again in Macau and also work on the script. I wrote her back and added something on the script about Macau, gave it back to her: we went back and forth seven or eight times. At the end that was not the finally draft, but at the end I put different draft together, since what I have really liked I did not want to change it.

That two women, one lost her daughter and one lost her mother, and then they get together: it is really crude to say this is a caused relation, because they had someone they have loved and then died, so they get together. However, in somehow, that happened: so I think it is right the ambiguous meaning I have really liked.

 

Vincent ChuiMask9: It is interesting to understand that, even though she is an emerging writer, the screenplay is very balanced, where everything has a beginning and a proper solution which point to the final end. We can find many relationship characterized by love, which in some way are unusual, even though they all aim to the human being's happiness. Is the metaphor the title refers to, connected with this representation of love?

Vincent: Usually when the Chinese talk about fig (fig translation is "fruit without flower") they refer to "effect without cause", "result without cause". However, Lui Siu Wah and me both have seen that actually fig is not a fruit without flower, since the flower is in the fruit and they are the same. This is my interpretation.

 

FigMask9: In fact, there is not only this mother-daughter relationship that becomes ambiguous, but also this father who has looked for a younger girl, and then the other father who, after having lost a daughter, just stays on his own and feels fine. Those are kind of unusual relationship: is it a right ambition to pass through difficulties with someone, even though we are conscious we will walk together just for a while and our feeling will end at some point?

Vincent: I don't believe you can really get some relief and move on, because something happened, had happened and it will be always there. But you still have to move on, and this is another ambiguous thing that I have tried to catch in my film. That is why I have looked like happy, ever after since, but after that I have in the plot that actually, the sadness is still there.

 

Vincent ChuiMask9: It took few years to you to come back after the previous film which was in 2008. What did it happen during this time?

Vincent: When someone gets older, time seems much faster, I don't know why. Well, I should have done more, really. Last three years I had to teach since I do not really make money by doing films. I did my work and I have this organisation (Ying and Chi) which organise one independent film festival every year and also tries to distribute and promote the Hong Kong independent films. Time just flies. But between these two features, I have done quite a lot of short films and also one documentary too, about kung-fu.

 

Mask9: You have started firstly with an European style, invented by Lars Von Trier, DOGMA, and then you switched to a thriller and after you switched to something that can be seen as a mix between romantic comedy and drama. Are you trying to find your way or you just wanted to experience different language?

Vincent: I am not the kind of director that have their vision or ideology about film. I am quite open, maybe because I am teacher and I have to be open to threat the students works too. I enjoyed doing that two films in the industry, however, once again, I am not that kind of person they can work in the industry and still insist on doing something that they really like. When I compromise, I just compromise.

To me, I don't have a very unique vision, however I just see depending on the script which will be the best style, way to finish that film. But I have really enjoyed the experience of DOGMA, because it opens your eyes and make you find that digital does not mean cheap, at that moment; of course today everybody can access it, but at that time I have really understood that digital does not mean only cheap, but flexible and it can be a new way of filmmaking. It really influenced my a lot, even now: maybe you cannot see any traces of DOGMA in "Fig", of course; however, I am still quite used to think of a scene as a whole rather than weak shoots.

 

Vincent ChuiMask9: You have chosen some kind of leitmotif all along the story, such as laundry or food and mainly, slopes and people going up and down on them. Are the slopes a way to express the life itself, that sometimes goes up and sometimes goes down?

Vincent: Well, a lot of slopes in Macau. I really appreciate that you have observed about it. I didn't consciously have a metaphor about the slopes. However, when I have designed every single shot with my cinematographer and the art director, I wanted to make the whole film looks a little bit dumb. When I have made DOGMA films I really hated that people have to see the whole things in a three dimensions and then you have to chase them: in this film I almost looked one side in every single scene. They just walk in from the left and walk out to the right and then I wanted to have a better texture, so I just chose the slopes and the stairs. So, I didn't do it consciously with any meaning behind, but maybe.

 

Mask9: Is love being firstly heart's-ease and then love someone else?

Vincent: It depends. There is not solution for everyone, it depends on how you choose and if you really understand what you want. If you are talking about the characters, I would say that. But if you are talking about the film, I would say, it depends on the audience: what he or she personally experienced, gives really a different interpretation about the film. That is what I wanted to give to the audience, I don't believe in any solutions: it is just cinema, it is just a film, I cannot provide any solutions, it's the audience that have to look for a solution by himself or herself.

 

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