Bloom of Youth (2017 Film) Screened at PKU Hall
Peking University, September 22, 2017: On September 17, 2017, a sneak preview of Bloom of Youth (Fang Hua in Chinese), a new film produced by Director Feng Xiaogang, was held at PKU Hall. This was the first stop of “I dedicate my ‘Youth’ to you” campus tour. Director Feng, screenwriter Yan Geling, and the two leading actresses, Miao Miao and Zhong Chuxi were present to share their experiences and thoughts about the movie with the Peking University’s students and teachers.
Sharing the Same Youth
Bloom of Youth is a film about some youths who were in the art troupes during the Sino-Vietnamese War in the 1970s and 1980s. Some worried that young people today could not appreciate this film due to the time gap. However, Director Feng believed otherwise. He said that youths from different generations share similarities and that the passion, enthusiasm, responsibility, anxiety and sincerity embedded in youth never changes. “Bloom of Youth is about our dreams, which brighten our youth and make it magnificent.” Commented Feng.
Director Feng Xiaogang
The audience broke into thunderous applause when the movie ended. Many students stated that although they did not share the characters’ experiences, they could still relate to them.
An undergraduate student who has just finished her military training said that watching scenes of washbasins, troops and salutations reminds her of all her experiences in the military. Moreover, the memories about the art troupe and the use of light in the film enabled her to empathize with the youth of that age.
Feng emphasized that, when composing, one must respect him/herself and his/her feelings to show respect to the audience. In fact, both Feng and Yan lived through that period and both have joined the art troupe once. Although 40 years have passed, they still cannot forget their time in the art troupe. “I’ve always wished to bring these beautiful memories on screen, and show the audience the wars and transformations we experienced. I’ve always been proud of what we have been through.” Said Feng.
“I think this is the smoothest working experiences I have ever had with a movie production,” said Yan Geling. “Director Feng is not a difficult person to work with. And since this film included many shared experiences, he can understand my writing without much effort. In short, this has been a very pleasant and very satisfying cooperation.” Said Yan.
Unforgettable Military Life
The female leading actress, Miao Miao, who acted as He Xiaoping in the film, was a dancer of the Song and Dance Troupe of the General Political Department. “We used to greet soldiers of different military camps. The furthest camp I have been to was Kashgar Prefecture of Xinjiang Province. Sometimes when we visited camps that couldn't be reached by vehicles, it was difficult for us to build the stage. However, we still wanted to perform for them, even if it was just a simple dance.” Said Miao.
The other leading actress, Zhong Chuxi, who acted as Shao Suizi in the film, was very grateful that Bloom of Youth gave her the chance to experience military life. Although she was from the post 90s generation, she could empathize with the stories very well. Because of the material deprivation, people then were more pure and sincere, especially those who joined the art troupe. They wholeheartedly devoted themselves to the protection of their country and had a strong sense of purpose and honor.
To make sure the actors were ready for their characters, Director Feng congregated them three months before the filming to experience collective life. During the training, they were not allowed to put on makeup or carry luxury bags and could only wear simple T-shirts and jeans. Training included wearing military uniforms, listening to the military songs and reading the scripts.
Heroes Should Be Remembered
“Chinese soldiers should be respected, saluted and taken as our role models.” Said Director Feng.
Some commented that Bloom of Youth was a movie that no one has dared to film in the past 30 years. Director Feng said, “The Sino-Vietnamese War took place in 1979. I hope that you could visit some small towns on the borders between China and Vietnam in Yunnan and Guangxi province. There are many martyrs cemeteries where tombstones are all over the mountains and plains. Most of them were only sixteen or seventeen years old when they died. They sacrificed their lives for the war, but history has effaced their traces as if they never existed. Let alone those who were injured and traumatized in the war.
An audience was unable to control her emotion while watching the film. She said that her neighbor was an ex-soldier of the Sino-Vietnamese War. He suffers from psychiatric disorders due to the war and was often teased by others. Nevertheless, her mother told her, “He is a hero.”
Director Feng said, “I am not a high-profile person, but when it comes to things related with the army, I would definitely stand up and do something.” As a former soldier, Feng always felt the responsibility to tell people about the martyrs. He believed that they should be venerated and remembered.
A “Clear Stream” Among the Commercial Films
As a realistic youth theme film, Bloom of Youth is unique among domestic films in term of its type and style. It may not be fashionable, but it is certainly refreshing.
“There should be different kinds of movies.” Said Feng, “I hope that directors can try different types of movies instead of swarming towards a similar type blindly.”
Bloom of Youth was a successful breakthrough of the clichés of domestic commercial films. As a “Clear Stream” among commercial films, Bloom of Youth gave the audience a brand new choice.
Written by: Tan Yen
Edited by: Xu Penghang
Source: PKU News (Chinese)