I'd be lost in Hollywood, says director

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2006, 12:00am

Mainland director Zhang Yang has said no to going to Hollywood despite having a number of acclaimed films under his belt and signing up with a prominent Hollywood agent, Creative Artist Agency.

'If I go to America, I don't know what films to make,' said Zhang, director of Shower and Sunflower, the latter of which is being screened at the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

'The greatest problem is the cultural differences. Here in China, I know what I'm doing. [If I go to America] I'll lose myself.'

While acknowledging many Chinese filmmakers had been trying to launch careers in Hollywood, Zhang said his intention behind signing with a US agent was to help raise money for future projects. '[Those directors] speak better English,' he said. 'Signing with an American agent just helps me with other aspects like financing a film.'

Zhang became one of the most watched talents in the world as soon as his debut Spicy Love Soup came out in 1997. The film competed at the Tokyo International Film Festival and won almost all of the domestic awards on the mainland.

His second film, Shower, made him a household name in China and at film festivals overseas. The film won numerous awards in Canada, Spain, Italy and Argentina.

His fourth film, Sunflower, starring Sun Haiying and Joan Chen, was a heart-wrenching tale of the relationship between a father and a son through four turbulent decades in China. The film won Zhang best director at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain.

Zhang said his past films were quite personal. 'They were all about my personal experience drawn from my life, friends and families.'

Sunflower was made two years ago and, on watching it again, he wishes he could have done the film in a different way. 'Now looking back ... it's a bit different. After making a film, a director usually draws a lot of conclusions,' he said.

'In between these two years I've watched many other films but now it's too late ... There are a lot of ways I could have made it [Sunflowers] better. For example, if it was structured differently, it would have been better.'

Zhang said he was feeling the pressure to improve and perform since receiving funding for his next, less personal project, Air, backed by Filmko at the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum.

'I'm always not satisfied with my previous films. If you have pressure, that means you can't think of a way to improve,' he said.

Young directors from the mainland have been receiving a lot of attention at international film festivals in recent years. Zhang said it was a normal phenomenon.

'With the economic growth [on the mainland], more young filmmakers can come out and make their own films. But they are also doing interesting films. Like my films, they reflect the real life in China. For foreign audiences, they see China through films.'

Sunflower screens at UA Times Square tonight at 9.30pm.