IN the cynical and despairing world of Fog Forest’s The End Of Wind, three tortured souls are brought together by chance as they desperately seek some form of redemption A story dark enough that Marc David Jacobs compared it in some ways to Lynne Ramsey’s You Were Never Really Here.
To learn more about the bleak outlook of his film, Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge spoke to Fog ahead of The End Of Wind’s screening at the Raindance Film Festival.
Q: Can you tell us about the themes you wanted to explore in The End of Wind?
A: THIS film is full of depressed atmosphere. That is because people in this society are so apathetic, they never show their sympathy to vulnerable people. They make the three main characters disappear or dead.
Q: What was the thinking behind the three characters lonely and desperate characters we meet in the film?
A: THE middle class guy is desperate because he doesn’t like the aesthetic of the majority of the society. He seems to against the whole country, like the David Bowie song The Man Who Sold The World“. He couldn’t find a real friend.
The second guy, the prisoner, was locked away for 10 years without proof of his guilt. He was wasting his best years in jail. During that time, his mother died and his father spent all of their money trying to prove his innocence. The problem is not only because of the government, but also the majority people of the society. They only seem to read the news and talk about it around the dinner table. It means the character feels abandoned by society.
For the North Korea girl, her fate was quite same as the prisoner. She couldn’t find a warm Chinese heart to help her escape from the bad guys. Even when she was living in the residential building. The people around her are too cold, they only take care of their own business.
When you see the society is so cold hearted toward vulnerable groups, you definitely start to feel lonely and desperate.
Q: I am particularly interested in the female character who has escaped from North Korea. Please talk more about this character?
A: THE background of the North Korean girl came from the newspaper. You hear lots of news from North China talking about the North Korea refugees. They don’t come to stay in China, but to cross over Chinese land and go to South Korea. Besides, it is easy to cross the border in the winter and some parts of the river between the two countries are only a dozen metres wide.
But these are still great dangers in these trips through China. If Chinese citizens know where they are hiding and report them to the Chinese government, they will be captured and repatriated to North Korea. We all know what will be waiting for them in their own country.
So they have to be careful when talking to normal Chinese citizens. There are some who don’t want to be trouble and don’t want to help North Korean people. Sometimes their [North Korean refugees] fates are really unlucky, they are sold off to marry Chinese peasants and never allowed to go to South Korea.
In the film, the North Korean girl comes to China with her father to look for her mother because they are starving in North Korea. Her mother came to China 10 years ago and she sent some money back with a Chinese address. So the father connected with a channel who promised to bring his family to South Korea via China.
Q: The world you depict in the film has been compared to Lynne Ramsey’s You Were Never Really Here and described as one of ‘terminal loneliness and cynicism.’ Does that reflect a bleak worldview you have or something else?
A: THERE are too many ugly aesthetics in society made me feel really sick. I just cannot get rid of it. And [my distain for] the people who show their fake sympathy in public but they are actually apathetic inside their hearts.
Q: What visual style can we expect from the film?
A: I used hand-held cameras to shoot the whole movie. I wanted to create a kind of experimental film because this is a story talking about life and death.
Q: What can you tell us about this cast and your experience working with them?
A: I learned a lot from Christopher Nolan. He said he used weekends to make the movie Following to save on costs. I did the same thing. In the first two months, I only shot on the weekends with my crew. My cast and crew are awesome. Some of them did not ask for payment because they liked the story very much, they didn’t care about the money at all even though they are not rich. And because of the low budget, I had to wait five months until the river was frozen. When the date was arrived, all of my crew were there and we all became friends immediately.
Q: I have read the film is a tribute to the work of Jim Jarmusch and Gus Van Sant. What influences have these two directors had on your work?
A: FOR Gus Van Sant, I very much enjoy watching his film Gerry, especially the long take scenes walking in the desert, the sound of stepping into the desert, the beautiful landscape and the way the camera moves. Once you watch the long takes and silent scenes, you will never forget them. That’s the magic. I made a lot of long takes with a moving camera. I tried to create a boring and lonely existence for my characters.
Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise creates a very exquisite love story with very simple art design, for example the abandoned building and simple furniture in the house, ect. I used a collapsed building to contrast with the CBD area. I also used a very basic table for the guy and girl sitting in the house to reflect an atmosphere of love.
Q: Can you talk about your background and what led you to filmmaking?
A: I worked for IBM for many years. As a salesman, I met a lot of colleagues, customers, distributors and competitors. All they ever talked about was business, especially the colleagues and the higher level managers. I didn’t know why they always wanted to earn more money even when they were already rich enough. I think that kind of work is pointless to me. So I tried to use film to express myself. “Rich people boring” – Aki Kaurismäki.
Q: What kind of films do you hope to make in the future?
A: I quite like David Lynch’s crime and thriller movies. I also like Wang Kar Wai’s film style. I hope I can tell a thriller crime story by using Wang Kar Wai’s shooting style. I am writing a crime and mysterious story right now.
Q: I believe you will be in attendance when the film screens at the Raindance Film Festival in London. What does it mean to you for the film to be shown at Raindance?
A: RAINDANCE is very important and famous festival. I am so happy that my film has been selected. I am expecting to meet the audience and will be glad to communicate with them. I hope they enjoy my movie.