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China's "Fly with the Crane" premieres at Venice film festival


09:04, September 06, 2012

VENICE, Italy, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- "Gao Su Ta Men, Wo Cheng Bai He Qu Le" (Fly With the Crane) by Chinese director Li Ruijun premiered at the 69th Venice International Film Festival on Wednesday.

The film tells the story of Old Ma, a 73-year-old carpenter who made and painted coffins. Believing that a person's soul and spirit can only be preserved after death through burial, he planned to make a romantic ending of his life and was longing to be taken to heaven by a white crane.

But after the authorities began requiring cremation, the old man felt hopeless until one day, his grandchildren mapped out an extraordinary plan to set him free.

At a press conference before the premiere, Li told reporters he was struck by the character of the old man.

"The story of this old man allowed me to, ever so slowly, understand that our time on earth is merely an ending merged with a beginning and that it is simply a divine game, the divine game of life," said the director.

Things that can really touch people's heart come from the plain life of ordinary people, the young Chinese director told Xinhua in an interview.

Most of the actors in "Fly With the Crane" are non-professional, including Li's father, mother and brother, said the 29-year-old director who was born in Gansu province in northwest China.

Besides financial constraints, Li said another reason for this choice was that he did not think professional actors could do justice to the characters and emotions of people in rural areas of China. The film was adapted from a novel by renowned Chinese author Su Tong.

Su's best-known work abroad is the novel Wives and Concubines, which was made into "Raise the Red Lantern" by Director Zhang Yimou. The film won numerous awards worldwide, including the Silver Lion at the Venice festival in 1991.

Li met considerable difficulties in making this film due to shortage of money and his young age, Su said at the press conference.

"So, it's a great piece of news that the film has been selected by the Venice film festival," he said.

Festival director Alberto Barbera made a special mention of "Fly with the Crane" in an interview with the Chinese media, saying the film showed special talent of the young Chinese director.

It is one of the three Chinese films competing in the Orizzonti section, which means it is still possible for the Chinese movies to grab titles at the festival, Barbera said.

The Venice film festival, the world's oldest, runs from Aug. 29 to Sept. 8 at the Lido seafront in Venice.
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