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10/24[Q&A]Discovering Asia – Old Well – [Digitally Restored Version] by Wu Tianming

Old Well

©2015 TIFF

“Old Well” Q&A session took place on Oct 24, 2015
Wu Yanyan (Producer / Wu Tianming’s daughter)
Lv Liping (Actress)
Facilitator: The Discovering Asia is a screening category that not only introduce the new Asian films but also willingly introduce the older films in a positive way. We are screening the Old Well and few Filipino films of the 1980’s which were restored digitally in recent days. Dir. Wu Tianming of Old Well is closely associated with our festival. In 1987, at the 2nd edition of the Tokyo International Film Festival, the film won the Tokyo Grand Prix Governor of Tokyo Award and the Best Actor Award. This is a retrospective screening of the Old Well.
Please give a warm welcome to Wu Yanyan, the daughter of Wu Tianming. She has recently established Wu Tianming Youth Film Fund and also Lv Liping who acted the role of Duan Xifeng.

Wu Yanyan: I was here last year to introduce my father’s posthumous film and this is my second visit to the Tokyo International Film Festival.
Lv Liping: This is my sixth visit to Japan. I remember watching the Old Well with Dir. Wu Tianming at the 2nd Tokyo International Film Festival for the first time. It was an amazing experience and I felt at the time that the film was going to become an instant success. I was impressed with the Tokyo International Film Festival for including his film in the program as a homage to a great director of China.
Q: I understand that your father’s posthumous film which he acted was screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival and later released in Japan. He had shaved his head and played a very comical character in a film about nursing home. What kind of person was your father?
Wu Yanyan: My father had a good humor and was an optimistic person. That was why he was unbeatable and could overcome any difficulties that he had to face.
Q: How did Dir. Wu Tianming direct during the shooting and gave instructions to the actors of the Old Well?
Lv Liping: I miss the crew of the Old Well. Wu Tianming was a man with a strong leadership and was a great director and also an excellent actor. He was a very merry person and his film production crew was nicknamed “noble crew” because while we were shooting the film, he always managed to provide good meals and energetic drinks for us every week. He also has an acting role in his film and I think he was the best actor and possessed rich life experience.
Q: You have visited the location during the shooting. How was the visit?
Wu Yanyan: My father told me to come to the shooting location to experience life in Old Well Village while I was still in school because my life was too easy and it was one of the poorest village in China. I still remember being bitten by the flea while I was sleeping. I had a very tough time there and I remembered writing in my diary that when we were having dinner, there were a lot of villagers looking at us eating as they were unable to get what we have for meals such as white rice and mantou every day. Water was scarce there. Villagers used the same basin of water for the whole day to wash their faces, wash vegetables, clothes, for bathing and finally watering the farm. That’s why I thought to myself I must be contented and treasure everything that I had.
There was also an old man who walked for more than ten kilometers every day for water. One day he took two buckets of water but he accidentally trips over his own feet in front of his house. The water was gone and he sat on the ground and cried for a long time. So when my father was awarded for the first time by China Film Directors’ Guild and received 100,000 Chinese Yuan as the prize, he donated the money to Old Well Village for road pavement improvement. Finally, water was provided throughout the village. When we came back to the village, everyone showed up and gave us a very warm welcome, and made the banner written in red that my father saved the village.
Q: Let us know your interesting episode about the fighting scene of the villagers.
Lv Liping: There was also a fighting scene between two villages. We asked the real villagers to act the roles. We were holding the sticks and rod but we didn’t where to hit. The director gave them the acting instructions and then they were really fighting hard against each other. Some of us even got hurt. The scene was so real and perfectly executed.
Wu Yanyan: There were also one scene where the villagers and the goats were fighting each other for the water. The goats were not fed with water for a few days so when it came to the actual shooting, the goats really fought hard for the water.
Q: Tell us about Zhang Yimou as an actor.
Lv Liping: The director had been looking for the right actor for a long time and finally he found Zhang Yimou. I asked the reason why he picked Zhang Yimou and the he replied that he had mood and the essence. The director understood acting and was also good at instructing the actors.
Q: I understand that when Zhang Yimou was acting, the assistant cinematographer was shooting the film. Is this true?
Lv Liping: As Zhang Yimou was acting in the film set, he discussed with his associate cinematographer, Jo Bunsai, every time before the actual shooting, including the filming location and camera movements.
Q: After the big accident, the mother of the deceased ties a red ribbon on the rope for the well. What is the meaning of tying that red ribbon?
Lv Liping: I am not certain about the meaning of the red ribbon on the rope but I guess it somehow reminded us not to repeat the same tragedy ever again. The color red was also a symbol of blessing.
Q: We understand that you are engaged with the activity of creating the new foundation With your father’s name to assist the young directors. Please let us know about it?
Wu Yanyan:This new foundation is part of the China Film Foundation and is called Wu Tianming Youth Film Fund. China Film Foundation made this fund when my father died. The non-governmental foundation was established to assist the young directors and have them inherit the spirit of Wu Tianming for the hope of continuing the creation of the excellent Chinese films.
Lv Liping: I recall Old Well and Dir. Wu Tianming with nostalgia. He was truly a great director in the Chinese film history. He was also an enlightenment to many major directors in China nowadays such as Tian Zhuang Zhuang, Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige and Yuen Woo Ping.
The major directors owe much to the presence of Dir. Wu Tianming. He had the creativity for film making and was also willing to educate and inspire new directors. We should pay the highest respect to such a film master. No other films have portrayed the Chinese farming community than the Old Well. The film is certainly a masterpiece and the goal for the young film makers. We wish the Wu Tianming Youth Film Fund will develop outstanding film makers.

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KEIRIN.JPThe 28th Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
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