by Isabella Tianzi Cai
On July 25, Chinese film auteur Jia Zhangke spoke at Beijing’s BC MOMA about his feelings concerning China’s Sixth Generation filmmakers. The occasion was the Beijing premiere of Sixth Generation director Wang Xiaoshuai‘s new feature Chongqing Blues. An unsubtitled video of Jia’s address can be found on Youku.com.
An abridged version of his remarks, titled “I Don’t Believe That You Can Predict Our Ending (Wo bu xiang xin ni neng cai dao wo men jie ju)” had been published a week earlier in the Chinese newspaper The Southern Weekly. We have translated some excerpts of the article below.
“During the reform era, many people were marginalized because they lacked power and money. Which of our films told the stories of these people? Which, amongst them, induced society to acknowledge their existence – helping the weak gain recognition? The Sixth Generation filmmakers’ films did. To me, their films are the gems of the Chinese culture of the 1990s.”
“Like any generation of film directions, we will get old, and we will lose our creativity gradually but surely. The force that drags us down, that instigates us to abandon our true selves, will continue to grow. The fatigue that accompanies old age both physically and mentally will invade us. Even selfishness has an increasing grasp on us. However, for me, when I see those crowded streets, I feel inspired all over again. They remind me why I wanted to make movies in the first place.”
“We will continue to produce all kinds of good films, and will we continue to produce all kinds of bad films. However, I believe that as long as we are true to our selves, we will be able to keep our soul alive. As long as we stay attuned to what’s happening around us, our creative energy will keep flowing.”
“After the French New Wave, Truffaut became a great commercial director, with an outstanding box office; Godard became an auteur; but most New Wave directors fell somewhere in between. Personal failures and successes cannot speak for a generation. Conversely, the accomplishments and failures of one’s generation cannot be used to gauge him or her. This, is out of date.”
“No matter what happens, we will always be loyal to cinema. If you are willing to accept culture as an integral part of film, I will say to you, for the past dozen years or so, all the best films that have tried to embrace culture are by the Sixth Generation filmmakers.”
Acknowledgements to Abel Chen and MCLC for bringing attention to Jia’s article and address.