Cannes Film Festival
25th La Cinef Selection 2022
The Silent Whistle
May 18, 2022
19-year-old girl Ming is a loner who works at night shift in a convenience store. One day near the spring festival, her unacquainted neighbour Rui invites her for a "special" dinner, which summons up her unspeakable past.
Hi Yingtong, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange times?
Thanks for speaking to me, I am busy recently with another short film script but everything is doing all great, thank you.
What has it meant to you to be able to represent your school with your film in Cannes?
I feel truly honoured and grateful, especially when I was told that I was the first director from Emerson College to participate in Cinefondation session, that meant a lot to me.
What would you say have been the most valuable lessons you have taken from your time at Emerson Collage?
Before I came to Emerson, I majored in legal studies, so basically, I learned most of what I know about filmmaking during my time here, from writing for shorts, cinematography as well as film directing. I appreciate and enjoy all my time here a lot
Besides that, some filmmaker friend I met here has become my lifetime friend. Some of them worked in the FENG ZHENG project and played a vital part in it. I am endlessly proud of these creative people.
Congratulations on The Silent Whistle being selected for the 25th La Cinef, where you are also nominated for the Cinefondation Award, will there be any pressure ahead of the festival?
No, I feel good at this point. Can’t wait to meet other young directors in Cannes.
Can you tell me how The Silent Whistle came about, what inspired you to make this film?
I grow up in a small seaside city in southern China, when I was a kid, I was obsessed with all kinds of stories from my parents, stories about the sea, about people and life in a small town….I got inspiration from those stories and develop it into a script, that’s how FENG ZHENG came.
What was the biggest challenges you faced bringing The Silent Whistle to life and what was the hardest scene for you to film?
The biggest challenge is working with the actress to deliver slow, deliberate and understated performances. FENG ZHENG is a subtle and personal film, it is so hard for the actor to feel what the character really feels. As a director, it’s my job to help them walk into the world of the character.
The hardest scene is basically every scene that is shot in the“old building”. In FENG ZHENG, there are many scenes that were shot in an old residential building in Guangzhou city, China. This kind of building is usually residence by elder people who tend to have a quiet living environment and used to go to bed at a comparatively early time, however, All the scenes in FENG ZHENG needed to be shot at night, and some are even in the midnight. At the first beginning, we were rejected by the building office for the shooting permission, after several tries, they said yes but we need to do it very very quietly. That is really hard for a film set.
"After graduating from law school in 2018, I feel like it’s time to pursue things that I really passioned about, that’s why I came to Emerson College."
When directing a film like The Silent Whistle how much flexibility did you allow yourself with the screenplay?
I usually stick to my screenplay, but I communicate a lot with the actor and crew members during preproduction and rehearsal, if there is any great idea, I will apply it.
Looking back is there anything you would do differently on this film?
There is nothing I would do differently on this film. It carries all my voice as well as expressions and I am so satisfied with what the film looks like at the end and I am grateful for that.
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
Frankly speaking, I have no idea where it comes from. I’ve always obsessed with motion pictures, but I take it as a hobbit for a long time. After graduating from law school in 2018, I feel like it’s time to pursue things that I really passioned about, that’s why I came to Emerson College.
Are there any areas of filmmaking or themes you are keen to explore with future films?
I’d like to make films that are personal, carrying personal emotion, telling personal stories and experiences. Like the quote says, “What is most personal is most universal.” I believe in it.
Is there any advice or tips you would offer a fellow director?
I think it is to be honest with yourself, to make the film that tells your own mind and stick with it for the whole journey.
And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from The Silent Whistle?
Let the nature takes its course. It’s ok to be sad and to be evasive, you are not alone, everyone has tough things.