Apropos of tonight's tribute at the Cinematheque: talking about Zev shooting in Shanghai, for his film about Chinese noise band Torturing Nurse.
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!