The European Independent Film Festival 2022
8th - 10th April 2022
Section: Non-European Dramatic Short
instagram.com/circularruinsfilm / ecufilmfestival.com
Liang Jing, a woman who works in the city, returns to the village where her parents live. Her mother orders her to consult an old fortuneteller for finding marriage. Although Liang is hesitant to obey her mother, she goes to the woman’s place one night. During the meeting, Liang's reality starts to intertwine with her past. Under the guidance of the fortuneteller, Liang’s life starts to change.
Hey Zeyu, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?
I am doing good. Thank you!
Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration or opportunities?
Pandemic hits me while I just graduated from college, and it certainly slow me down. I have to spend a lot of in-between time waiting for things to happen. It was very stressful and panicky at first. But after three years, it taught me that achieving a goal is about imposing discipline on myself and being patient and humble. The personality of one artist is formed by these dull and painful times.
You have had an amazing festival run with Circular Ruins, what do you think it is about your film that has connected with audiences so much?
I have had some audiences telling me how they were affected by the melancholic mood till the end of the film. I think it’s because Circular Ruins come directly out of my personal life. I tried to capture the invisible pain and sadness embedded in a Chinese family. I think that gives Circular Ruins the unique emotional quality.
Congratulations on having Circular Ruins part of the 17th ÉCU Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be screening your film in Paris?
Paris is such a charming city. I have been there once and I couldn’t forget about its beauty. It means so much to me to screen my film as part of the 17th ÉCU Film Festival. ÉCU has been an important platform for independent filmmakers for years. I feel very honoured.
Can you tell me how Circular Ruins came about, what was the inspiration behind this film and what was the message you wanted to convey with it?
The inspiration for Circular Ruins comes as my response from Fanny and Alexander by Bergman. I didn’t know such abstract and mysterious film could touch me in such a deep way. It points me to the right direction. I start to write the script for Circular Ruins as soon as I finished watching that film. I want to convey the invisible sadness and anxiety embedded in Chinese family life. That’s why there are so many mysterious elements in my film. They are direct visualisations of that deep undercurrent of pain which are the by-products of Chinese societies’ drastic economic and social changes.
"I do believe that being a prodigy wouldn’t get you very far in the film industry. It’s an art form that requires so many commitments."
How flexible did you allow yourself and the cast with the script once you started shooting?
The schedule was very tight. I had to stick to the script. Most of the change was done in post-production. I did lots of experiments with editing and sound design.
What has been the biggest challenge you've faced bringing Circular Ruins to life and looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?
The biggest challenge was from post-production process during the pandemic. I had to remotely communicate with collaborators and to struggle in order to find a right language during the process. It was hard to understand their intention behind each drafts with just emails and Zoom meetings.
If I were doing it again, I would tell myself to be more understanding and helpful leading the collaborators. I was afraid that I was asking for too much revision based on my own instinct. But looking back, lots of revision was the only way to get to the better stage. If I were more confident, I could have sped up the process.
Where did this passion for filmmaking come from?
Film has always spoken to me deeper than any other art form. I am motived to make more films now, for it creates the most alive and powerful speech. It’s not just characters living inside a screen. It’s a mirror reflecting our consciousness. It doesn’t necessarily provide any answer but opens a gateway for us to enter and be transformed.
What would you say has been the most valuable lesson you have taken away from making Circular Ruins?
Confidence. I learned trusting in my instinct, pushing myself through the making process.
Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the stories they want to tell?
I can’t speak for other filmmakers. But for me, yes most definitely. I want to make a film that’s thrilling and powerful. I try my best to tell an authentic story such as a personal discovery or something related to my background. And, I try to make organic decisions while making. I believe such film should touch people just like those great films from old masters did to me. The boundaries and language of the stories will renew the audiences.
For anyone out there thinking about getting into filmmaking do you have any tips or advice you would offer them?
Be persistent. I don’t know if there’s a genius in the film world. I do believe that being a prodigy wouldn’t get you very far in the film industry. It’s an art form that requires so many commitments. To be able to make a meaningful film, it requires right resources for its making and years of preparation and struggle. For most filmmakers, it’s a once in a lifetime chance. I believe this journey of being a filmmaker is what defines us and shapes us. So, I want to say, “Don’t be discouraged when things don’t go as you wish. The key is to keep trying.”
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Circular Ruins?
I hope people enjoy the film and immersed in the emotion and atmosphere. I would be happy if audiences walk outside the theatre being deeply moved.