A Chinese Family Portrait
"A Chinese Family Portrait" is a window into the intimate life of a family in Beijing: a film about the expression of feelings in Chinese culture
A Chinese Family Portrait
"A Chinese Family Portrait" is a film shot by a young Italian film maker on a quest to get to know his future wife's family.
Incapable of speaking Mandarin and destabilised by his first trip to China, Giancarlo is surprised by the lack of demonstrations of affection which come naturally to most people in Europe. He therefore decides to go back to Beijing to find the answers to his questions about the attitudes of Chinese families. One question in particular keeps him awake at night: How do Chinese people love each other?
He will spend nine days in his adoptive family's home which will allow him to be the privileged witness of the most intimate moments of a 60 year old Chinese couple, his own parents-in-law.
This emotionally charged process is the initiative of a husband-to-be searching for his place in the heart of his other half's family.
The director offers us an access to the meeting of two worlds, so far apart, yet so close at the same time. As the film goes on, a new language is created: made of furniture and objects, of looks and patience, of new photographs and old family portraits, of silence and music.
"Everything stemmed from my relationship with Jing and my discovery of Chinese culture. I was very quickly confronted to cultural differences which I did not expect and I have to admit that my natural reflex was to be overly judgemental of Chinese society at first."
"My first visit to Beijing was marked by one event in particular which made me conscious of how far my initial vision was from the truth. Jing has always spoken to me very often about her best friend from her childhood Men Jia. 4 hours after we had landed, we were on our way to meet her. Men Jia had just given birth and Jing was extremely excited at the idea of seeing her again.
I was really surprised when Men Jia opened the door and was face to face with Jing. The emotion was tangible, but the two friends did not hug or kiss each other, they simply gave each other a gentle wave.
This event made me realise that I did not even know the basic principles of interaction in Chinese culture. Like a revelation, a universe of questions opened before me. I had to explore it! "
Why this film?
In 2013, I had already taken on an exploration of Chinese culture through my photography project "BeijingHer".
"A Chinese Family Portrait" is the logical next step for me.
Thanks to this video portrait, my aim is to explore the expression of feelings according to the behavioral codes of Chinese society.
What can we witness?
The themes mostly explored by the film include: family love and paternity; welcoming and encounter; and, more generally, emotions and the way they are expressed in the context of a Chinese middle class family.
The filming especially focuses on the household: its intimate moments and its routines, its furniture and objects which witnessed moments of the past and the present.
The second major subject is the public park, a place where Chinese families like to spend a lot of time going for walks or exercising, but also cultivating their artistic passions such as singing, dancing, photography, etc.
Outings in the park allows us to observe the aspects of Chinese society which make up the background of this portrait with secondary characters and typical urban residential areas of the capital.
Finally, particular attention is reserved for photography.
Photography is my passion and, for a few years now, my profession as well. It is therefore a natural steadfast for me in moments when I feel a bit lost. It will be present in this film thanks to old family portraits but also thanks to Jing's parents who share the same passion as me. They spend a lot of time taking pictures of the surrounding nature in the parks and in and around the city.
In fact, seeing as I don't speak Mandarin, photography is my best method of communication with Jing's parents. Through photography I can discover the similarities and differences in the way we observe the world around us.
Location and dates of the shootings
Beijing, from March 17 to 26
Allocation of funds
Your contribution is essential to the production of this film
The sum collected will be distributed as follows:
+ 240 € -> commission KissKissBankBank
+ 1720 € -> 3 airline tickets to Beijing
+ 600 € -> stay of 8 nights and 9 days for 3 people in Beijing
+ 442 € -> travel insurance and equipment
= 3002 €