Zhao Dayong, director of acclaimed documentaries Ghost Town and Street Life, is interviewed by the South China Morning Post in advance of the world premiere of his film Shadow Days at the Berlin Film Festival:
You started out as a documentary filmmaker. Why have you moved to fiction?
In reality, there is not much of a difference between documentary filmmaking and fiction, because I use the images to express things I want to say and stories I want to tell. It is not easy to express thoughts in a comfortable way through a documentary – you have to remain truthful to the complexities of these people’s real lives. Fiction is more free from these constraints, and much more effective.
You’ve portrayed solitude, hopelessness and the strength of human resilience in your previous work. What topics are you dealing with inShadow Days?
The main topic of all my documentaries and films has never changed: lives becoming shallower through economic development, the faith in and culture of cash, the destruction of a natural form of living, and helplessness and ignorance. Shadow Days is the story of a boy returning to a place where he thought he could live safely and raise a child, but then it all goes wrong. [His character’s fate] is something that is inevitable because of ignorance
Read the rest of the interview at the South China Morning Post.
Zhao Dayong’s films Ghost Town and Street Life are part of the dGenerate Films collection.