Interview with Lu Qingyi, director of ‘Four Springs’

Lu Qingyi’s documentary film "Four Springs" celebrates everyday life as a unique experience

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Lu Qingyi is a Chinese director from Dushan, Guizhou Province in southwest China.

Lu Qingyi left home at the age of 15 and worked as a migrant worker in various jobs. During his 30 years in Beijing, he has worked as a bar singer, miner, soccer player, editor and photographer. His film debut “Four Springs” captures the flow of life and everyday routines of his own parents.

The years of detachment allowed the director to observe his family in the mountain county from a new perspective. Lifestyle, customs, and landscape of his hometown exalted harmony in diversity. The documentary shows the chronicles of the everyday life of his parents.

The everyday life conveys the importance of tasting traditions since they are part of the experience of each individual. Reunions, separations, and untimely departures: ordinary days contains great significance.

His parents live every moment with serenity, resiliency and a strong attachment to everything around them.

Four Springs was nominated at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival 2018. The documentary film won the best documentary at the 12th FIRST International Film Festival in Xining. Lu Qingyi’s documentary film is simple but touching and this is the key that made it a hit in Chinese cinemas nationwide.

Interview by Dominique Musorrafiti

China-underground: Where did the idea for “Four Springs” come from?

Lu Qingyi: It is not an inspiration, but a continuation of family habits. My parents have been married from 1963, and every year they make photos as a commemoration. They are very nostalgic for family life. I grew up in this atmosphere and have a deep-rooted love for documenting family life. Since I was able to buy my first camera, I started taking countless pictures. After a few years of shooting, I always feel that the photo is just an instant frame. It left too much time for the moment before and after the recorded moment, and could not record the traces of the passage of time. At the end of 2012, I was just about to buy a new camera and bought a video camera to start shooting.

也不算是灵感,而是家庭习惯的一种延续。我父母从1963年结婚到现在,每一年都会留下照片作为纪念。他们非常留恋彼此的时光,对家庭生活也很留恋。我从小在这种氛围里长大,对记录家庭生活也有根深蒂固的喜爱。自从有能力买了第一部相机,就开始疯狂记录。拍了几年之后,我总觉得照片只是瞬间的定格,它对被记录下来的那一瞬间前后的时间留白太多,不能记录下时间流逝的痕迹。在2012年底,我正好要添置一台新相机,就买了带视频功能的开始了拍摄。

How long did it take to make the whole project?

It took four years for the filming, and the editing took about two years.

拍摄花了四年时间,剪辑大概花了两年多。

“In 2015, Lu watched an interview with director Hou Hsiao-hsien from Taiwan, who said that ifyou want to make a film, you just make it, and the experience will come as you shoot. He decided, then, to compile the videos into a film.” China Daily

What were the biggest challenges you encounter in the realization of “Four Springs”?

The biggest challenge was the physical effort because at the same time you have to consider the images and the sound. When you compose the picture, you should also consider the focus. It is difficult to do these things by yourself. In addition, I always want to record the space from multiple angles, so I need to run up and down, carrying a heavy bag, and a tripod, which is very wearisome.

最大的挑战是体力问题,因为要考虑视觉的同时还有兼顾声音,在构图的时候,还要考虑对焦,这些事情一个人去做是有些困难的。另外我总想多角度去体现空间,这样就需要跑上跑下,背着很重的包,还有三脚架,是非常累的。

four-springs-cover

The death of a son or a daughter is a very hard moment for parents. Your parents’ vitality made them dancing after cleaning your elder sister tomb. Where they find their strength to go on and face everyday life after this mourning?

Perhaps they have gradually understood life and really felt that the life and death of human beings as creatures cannot be avoided. They are used to showing strong vitality under any circumstances.

也许是他们慢慢理解了人生,真切地感受到了人作为生物的生死是无法避免的。他们已经习惯了在任何状况下体现出强盛的生命力。

“The happiness of life is to see that one’s vitality leaves a mark in life. Life is beautiful, and one should find strength when facing difficulties,” Lu said at the film’s premiere on Jan 2 in Beijing. China Daily

Your parents have been married for over 50 years and still deeply in love. Do they face disagreements? How do they settle them? What advice do you think they would give to young couples to defines a successful marriage living between sorrows and happiness?

In my memory, they have never had a disagreement and have been facing the challenges of fate together. My father once told me that when two people are lucky enough to meet in life, they should love each other. Each one has advantages and disadvantages. These should be accepted as a mutual benefit.

在我的记忆里,他们从未有过分歧,一直共同面对命运的各种挑战。我爸爸曾经跟我说过,两个人能在生命里相遇,应该珍惜,每个人都有优点缺点,这些都应该接受,相互调整。

four-springs

The 105-minute film was edited down from 250 hours of recordings. Can you share with us something that was in the cut scenes, but has a particular meaning for you?

Because the original purpose of my shooting was to record life, all the clips are meaningful to me, even if I didn’t edit them into the feature film, they still remain in my memory inventory. When I look through these clips over and over again, I have a deeper understanding of my family, my hometown, and even my life.

因为我拍摄的初衷是记录生活,所以所有的片段对我来说都是有意义的,即便没有剪辑到正片里,但依然留在了我的记忆库存里。我反复翻阅这些片段的时候,我对家庭、对家乡,甚至对人生会有更深的认识。

“He stopped recording following Spring Festival in 2016. Lu explains that he made the decision to stop because he noticed his parents aging a lot more acutely following the death of his sister.” China Daily

Your project is very personal: a love visual diary about your family. How do you expect audience reaction will be? What message would you like to give to the audience?

After the film was shown, many of the audience responded very enthusiastically. Most of them liked it and gave my parents and family a deep affection. I am very touched. I am very grateful to everyone. I didn’t want to convey anything. I just wanted to show my loved ones, my beloved parents, and let more people see their beauty. This is the gift I want to give them.

片子放映后,很多观众的反应很热烈,大多数是喜欢的,并且给了我父母、家人深情的祝福,非常感动,我很感谢大家。我并没有想传达什么,只是想把我爱的父母,非常非常可爱的父母呈现出来,让更多人看到他们的美好。这是我想送给他们的礼物。

four-springs

As an independent documentary filmmaker that made a low-budget film that reaches the big screen in China, what advice do you want to give to young up-and-coming directors?

Sorry, I really don’t have enough experience in this area. Maybe I can give some advice after I get more experience in the future.

抱歉,这方面我真的没有更多的经验,也许以后得到更多经验后,从能给出建议。

Can you tell us something about your next project?

Several projects are still under discussion. I want to make a drama, I want to give it a try.

有几个项目还在商讨。我想拍剧情片,各种类型的电影表达我都想试一试。

 Thanks to Fortissimo Films for the collaboration

China Undergroundhttp://china-underground.com
China-underground.com includes thousands of articles on news, Chinese history, Chinese art, Chinese literature , China pictures gallery, videos, and Chinese cinema.

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