Chinese director Lou Ye has defied the authorities to produce controversial movie after controversial movie. But risking arrest in China may be worth it, since his newest, “Spring Fever” has now won the best screenplay award at Cannes.
“Spring Fever” is a love/infidelity story with a gay theme. The film tells the story about Luo Haitao who has been hired by Wang Ping’s wife to spy on the passionate relationship between her husband and another man, but who slowly loses control of the situation.
The movie was shot secretly in Nanjing City, in spite of the five-year ban that Lou received in 2006 for his movie, “Summer Palace.” That film, shown in Cannes in 2006, examined the protest movement that led to the violent repression in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Bringing “Summer Palace” to Cannes that year without official approval, he earned international acclaim but also exclusion from the official world of Chinese cinema.
Before that, he had a two-year ban after making the movie Suzhou River in 2000. Although he might now be at risk again, Lou Ye appears to keep his spirits high. He regards his Cannes award as a possibility to contribute to greater freedom for cinema in China. He told AFP this week:
I hope young directors will be free and will be independent enough to make their films. …
The point of “Spring Fever” was to portray individual emotions rather than social problems. The individual is more important than the group, but the last time the Chinese talked about individuals was back in the 1920s.
And on Reuters Canada, he says:
I hope I’m the last director to be banned in China. … I hope, nothing will happen when I get back. I am just a director making a film. … Don’t be afraid of the cinema,’ that’s what I say to myself.
Lou Ye is normally grouped with the Sixth Generation, a wave within Chinese cinema that often focuses on ordinary characters, using a realist “stream of life” style instead of melodrama.
These underground films are produced on low budgets outside the official studio system, and are therefore often considered ”illegal”, and shut out from public screening in China. The Sixth Generation directors depend more on networking and winning prizes at international festivals to obtain distribution and funding.
And as we have seen, Lou Ye undoubtedly encapsulates this generation.
Picture from http://www.chinacinema.fr