[EDITORS NOTE: indieWIRE is publishing two interviews daily with Sundance ’07 competition filmmakers through the end of the festival later this month. Directors with films screening in the four competition section were given the opportunity to participate in an email interview, and each was sent the same set of questions.]
Chinese novelist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo‘s debut narrative feature “How Is Your Fish Today?” is described by Sundance as an “impressive [film] that ambitiously tells an enigmatic story while simultaneously dissecting the very enigma that is storytelling.” Co-written by Guo and screenwriter Rao Hui, the film’s story operates on two levels. The first focuses on a frustrated writer (played by Hui) and the other centers on his dramatic subject, a young man named Lin Hao, who is seen traveling across China in a visual depiction of Rao Hui’s still-unfolding screenplay.
Sundance comments that the film “easily [bridges] these narrative diversions, [and] Guo’s handy use of elision and metaphor, both as devices and narrative subjects, renders her film playful without sacrificing lyricism or human drama.” Guo’s previous film work includes the 2004 doc on China’s rapid growth, “The Concrete Revolution” and doc short, “Far and Near” (2003). Her latest book, “A Concise Chinese English Dictionary for Lovers” was published recently (January, 2007, Random House). In her interview with indieWIRE Guo gives a quick overview of her work as a filmmaker and on her latest film. “How is Your Fish Today?” will screen in the World Cinema Competition: Dramatic at the Sundance Film Festival, which opens this Thursday in Park City, Utah.
Please introduce yourself…
Sorry about my English. I am the Chinese filmmaker that directed this film which was co-produced in the UK. I divide my filmmaking time half in Europe and half in China.
Please talk about “How Is Your Fish Today” and how the idea came about.
It is a film made in completely documentary language and about a Chinese scriptwriter’s inner journey
across China in a messy and caotic reality. It is very much a writer’s film which I think [stems] from my background as a novelist. I have published six books.
What are your influences?
I am influenced by ’60s French cinema and old Hollywood films, [I especially] like Billy
What is your definition of “independent film?”
The definition of an independant film for me is the attitude from the film and filmmaker, [especially] the artistic language and the political message. As a Chinese filmmaker, it is crucially important to have that attitude as we live in such a globalized world.
Get the latest coverage of Park City ’07 in indieWIRE’s special section here at indieWIRE.com