FOUR WAYS TO DIE IN MY HOMETOWN
Wo guxiangde si zhong siwang fangshi
Directed by Chai Chunya
2012, 90 min, digital.
In Gansu dialect with English subtitles.
A four-part fiction film that’s as much poetry as it is narrative, first-time filmmaker Chai Chunya’s gorgeous work evokes four characters – a poet, a searcher, a puppet master, and a shaman – each with intense, mystical, deeply-rooted spiritual links to the land (the film was shot in and around Gansu province) mediated by the four elemental symbols: earth, water, fire, and wind. The film’s logic is associative, dreamlike; Chai builds up a series of striking tableaux, hypnotically suggestive and pictorially spectacular. Two young women lose a camel, then a father. A retired shadow puppeteer meets a gun-toting tree thief. Storytellers and shamans evoke a lost spiritual world that Chai films back to life in spectacular visual motifs whose meanings are intuited, like deeply felt communal memories.
Producer: Huang Jingwei
Production company: Hong Place Vision
Screenplay: Chai Chunya
Cinematography: Huang Xiaoyu
Editor: Zhang Anna
Music: Mamer IZ Band
Sound: Wang Hanyang
Cast: Li Jianbin (folk singer), Gao Weixia (Ga Gui), Liu Jiadi (La Mei), Li Qingwei (country poet), Shi Tiansheng (lunatic), Chai Shugang (Ga Gui’s father), Lin Haibing (bus driver), Yang Guiqing (shadow puppeteer), Wang Suifu (hunter), Zhang Shuangyin (sheep peddler), Long Fanghe (female shaman), Li Jianzhen (male shaman)
I have a physiological and psychological need to shoot independent films.
The current atmosphere for creating art films and independent films in China is quite good, and there are a great number of possible topics. I don’t tell stories anymore, and hope that my works, like our lives, embody a great deal of trouble and anger.
I don’t believe that the goal of my work is to attend large international film festivals. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve already given up the possibility of distribution and profit, at least for the moment.
-Xu Ruotao (Yumen)