Thursday, January 16, 2014

One final Zev Asher excerpt

Apropos of  tonight's tribute at the Cinematheque: talking about Zev shooting in Shanghai, for his film about Chinese noise band Torturing Nurse.
A: Did you safe as a filmmaker? Were you ever hassled?

Z: There’s one scene in there where I’m shooting the military - they put their hands up and tried to stop me. I was feeling kind of aggressive and I just kind of ignored them. And they’re kind of afraid - they can’t speak English at all, and they assume I can’t speak Chinese. Which I couldn’t. They’d rather not deal with it if they can avoid it.

A: Where did the kid come from - the kid on the parade ground? That’s a brilliant shot.

Z: The kid was just sitting there! I had a friend shooting that for me, and I said, “the kid would be a nice shot.” He got a beautiful shot of it, just to illustrate - she was saying that the military service was compulsory, but you don’t have to really do anything.

A: It illustrates that brilliantly. Most hardcore military maneuvers are probably like, “no kids!”

Z: No kids. We did have guy come over and say “you can only shoot the cadets and the students - don’t shoot any of the generals” or - I didn’t know who was who, but after that, I focused on shooting the generals. I was sitting alone in the stands in the stadium. Clearly, obviously, a white guy sitting there alone with a nice camera. But they didn’t stop me, surprisingly.

A: What was your impression of communism in China?

Z: I didn’t get a sense of it, other than street signs indicating that buildings associated with communism or the Communist Party. It seemed more like capitalist hell, like Japan. Everyone’s hustling you and they’re trying to sell you knockoffs of Luis Vuitton bags or Rolex waches, or DVDs you can find on every corner, for the equivalent about a dollar. I couldn’t believe some of the stuff I found - the Criterion box set of Stan Brakhage, pirated for $3.

A: Did you buy it?

Z: No, I had it already. I downloaded it!

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