Bi Gan’s dreamy, daring debut feature “Kaili Blues” has already racked up a series of film festival accolades since its bow at last year’s Locarno Film Festival, including the FIPRESCI Prize at the Golden Horse Film Festival and the Best Emerging Director prize at Locarno, and now the film is set to screen for a solid week at New York City’s own Metrograph theater, where NYC cinephiles will most likely fall in love with a shiny new filmmaking star to watch.
Indiewire recently chatted with Bi over email, and he explained how his film came to be, what’s next and why his family is pretty burnt out on film festivals.
The idea for the film came from my
confusion at the time. As the Buddha said, “neither
the past, the present nor the future mind can be found,” quoting “The Diamond
Sutra,” which appears at the beginning of the film.
I think the biggest
challenge was the budget issue. When I shoot on
locations, I can only use them for few days. The budget can only cover the
whole crew’s everyday meals and accommodations. When the film is 70% shot, I am
already out of money and have to dismiss the crew. Under these
circumstances, I have to try my best to keep my film at a high-quality level and
express my aesthetics well in the film. This is quite challenging for me.
Other films that influenced “Kaili Blues” include “Goodbye South, Goodbye” by Hsiao-hsien Hou. And a Chinese
animation called “Mou Fang Da Sha,” which tells a story about a little boy who was
stuck in a magic cube. He has a gun with him, which shot out wine instead of
bullets, and the wine made people drunk.
In my childhood, I
always heard about the stories which are full of magic, but when I grew up, I found
out life is full of realism. When I was writing the script for “Kaili Blues,” I
was thinking about how to shoot a real story in a dreamy way.
Most of cast are my
relatives and friends. Chen Sheng is my uncle. Zhao Daqing is my grandma’s ward mate. Luo Feiyang is my stepbrother. Xie Lixun is my
sound engineer’s brother.
It is quite
simple how the film’s longest take came to be: The cinematographer kept the camera on. When the actor is riding the motorcycle,
the cinematographers and sound engineers also ride on the motorcycle behind it
and follow them. In order to finish this long take, I asked three
cinematographers to join a relay team, which is the spirit of “Yu Gong who
removed the mountains.”
“Hungover is what I felt about the festivals right now. In terms of the
awards, but after winning, my family thinks all films which go to festivals
also received awards.
My next film will be a detective story, which takes place in the countryside. When I shot “Kaili Blues,” I found the main character Chen Sheng, a detective who gets lost
in time and memory.
“Kaili Blues” will have a special one-week engagement at NYC’s Metrograph theater, starting on Friday. Find out more information here.