VENICE (Reuters) - Changes in Chinese society are portrayed in a clash of generations in director Guan Hu’s non-competition film at the Venice Film Festival, in which an aged hooligan regroups his old gang to rescue a son who is being held hostage by rich young people.
Guan’s “Lao Pao Er” (Mr Six) will close the festival on Saturday. It will be shown after the gala awards ceremony, where the Golden Lion top prize is given to the best film chosen from among 21 in the main competition by a jury headed by Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron.
“I was born in a traditional Beijing hutong (narrow street) and the problem is that China has been developing at great speed in the last 30 years and seen a great development as it sought to catch up with the West,” Guan told Reuters in an interview.
“It’s been too fast and a lot of problems have arisen from that.
He said that by showing the hooligan, played by fellow director Feng Xiaogang, in a showdown with a group of rich young people, he sought to draw attention to changes he says have affected the entire country, not just Beijing.
“I wanted to describe these different groups of people, the people at the bottom of the society, the middle classes and on the top, the officials, and how they interact and the society functions,” he said. “So, what I’m aiming at is a realism.”
Feng, one of China’s best-known directors, said he’d enjoyed being in front of the cameras for a change.
“Being an actor was nice because it’s simple, you are there, you’re in the scene and you just have to think about one thing and about getting it right.
“Meanwhile, being a director, you have a lot of things going on in your head and you have to coordinate a lot of things, so only a fraction of your attention goes to creating or to creativity. So I actually enjoyed this chance of doing something more simple and just being an actor.”
Also shown out of competition as the festival drew to a close was Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang’s reflection on aging, “Na ri xiawu” (Afternoon). In the film, he and a longtime friend, Li Kang-sheng, hold what a festival synopsis describes as “a conversation between a dying man and his most beloved person”.
“It was very difficult to make this film, it’s hard to converse with him, he doesn’t like to talk too much and is very too taciturn. I asked to film it so we’d have to stick to it and couldn’t run away,” Tsai, who made the critically acclaimed “Stray Dogs” (2013), told Reuters.
“In the end, the conversation was transcribed and included in the film and I liked the cinematographic side of it and decided to make this film.”
Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Larry King