A NEW OLD PLAY featured in Cinema Scope Magazine
The brightest light in the Chinese independent cinema world at this moment is Beijing-based filmmaker and artist Qiu Jiongjiong. In an atmosphere in China of increasing surveillance and control of non-official, unauthorized artistic activity in China, Qiu, now 44, stands out as an artist with a powerful, complex, engaging vision who has found a way to continue to work without compromise. His new film, A New Old Play, premiered at the 2021 Locarno Film Festival and is now having a series of screenings in North America, after following its pickup by Icarus Films via their dGenerate Films Collection.
When asked about the central figure of the clown in this film, director Qiu Jiongjiong says:
Qiu: The clown spirit is the core and quintessence of my cinematic grammar, and thus of all my documentaries, so this the choice of this theme came very naturally. The clown spirit resonates with my personal experience of life, but it is also closely associated with Sichuan, which may even be its birthplace. Sichuan people are cheerful in the face of fate and suffering, and known for their dark sense of humour. Some may think them too laid- back or nonchalant, but for me it is definitely a quality of resilience. The clown’s ((xiaochou)) appearance is coarse and ugly, but an aura of nobility shines through. He is a figure of contradiction: his humble, modest demeanour hides a brave soul; there is sadness and melancholy under a playful, clownish exterior. My perception of the clown spirit is very close to the essence of a human being, as well as the essence of an artist. On stage, the clown is often a participant in the story, but can also step outside it and act as a narrator or observer from afar. This seems to be true in both Western and Eastern theatrical cultures. This alienated perspective is very revealing.
You can read the full interview here.