Chinese director Fruit Chan attends a press conference for his film The Midnight After during Berlin Film Festival on Feb 7, 2014. [Photo/Xinhua]
Being part of a competition jury at the 72nd Venice International Film Festival that closed here on Saturday night was an exciting and challenging experience for China’s Hong Kong director Fruit Chan.
In an interview with Xinhua, Chan highlighted that watching a film from the perspective of a jury is very different from watching it from a self perspective. “You have to evaluate a film from an overall point of view, as every film has some reasons in his style or content to be here,” he said.
The Chinese director has been twice in competition at the Venice Film Festival, with Durian Durian in 2000 and Hollywood, Hong Kong in 2001. In 2014 he directed The Midnight After, presented at the Berlin Film Festival.
This year at the Venice festival, Chan was a jury member of Orizzonti, an international selection dedicated to films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema.
The Orizzonti Award for Best Film was given to Free in Deed by US director Jake Mahaffy, set in the world of storefront churches, while the Orizzonti Award for Best Director went to US director Brady Corbet for his The Childhood of a Leader, inspired by the childhood events of many of the great dictators of the 20th century.
Being a jury member, Chan explained to Xinhua, also allowed an experienced director like him to learn many things, as the types of films presented at the festival are not films that people usually watch for entertainment.
In addition, he said, the films in competition from different countries presented situations and feelings that were the expression of a variety of cultures.
In his view, so-called “art” or “independent” films generally have higher chances to be awarded at the Venice International Film Festival, as Europeans traditionally have a preference for those works with deeper social, political or religious elements.
This is particularly challenging for Chinese films, Chan noted. But the strength and beauty of a film is what counts the most, so that “each film in competition in fact has its chance to be a winner,” he told Xinhua.
The jury’s final decision, Chan said, results from a combination of factors, including the personal taste and experience of jury members, “and also fortune.” It is impossible, he stressed, to make a calculation of what ingredients can make a film the winner. “Some calculations might help a film be selected for the competition, but winning an award is something different,” he said.
The Orizzonti jury was chaired by Jonathan Demme, the American director winner of Best Director Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs in 1991. The other members of the jury were French director and screenwriter Alix Delaporte, Spanish actress Paz Vega and Italian actress Anita Caprioli.
The different backgrounds of the jury members as well as the fact that some were directors and others were actors made their views quite different, however a calm dialogue among them made everything work smoothly, Chan underlined.
“It was not like they told me it happened in the past, when more than 10 hours of heated debate would be necessary in order to take a decision,” he pointed out.
Chan said that since many years ago the digital revolution has influenced and changed the filmmaking process, in particular as regards Asian films. On one side technology has made things easier, as anybody is now able to make a film just with a small budget, which especially helps young directors. “But on the other side, competition has become fiercer,” he added.
Like it or not, the digital revolution is a matter of fact in a world in which young generations have all grown up watching movies on their computers, Chan stressed.
In his view, both commercial and art films can be excellent works. “Art films are not necessarily more noble,” he told Xinhua. Both the commercial and art films, he said, meet the same difficulties and challenges in facing the market.