Also showing: Tian Zhuangzhuang

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 May, 2007, 12:00am

Making films comes easily to mainland director Tian Zhuangzhuang, but getting them screened can be difficult - something he's experiencing with his new film, The Go Master.

Released in local cinemas today, The Go Master is based on the autobiography of Chinese Go player Wu Qianyuan, which tells how Wu becomes a Go master in Japan after failing to find competition in his home country. The film depicts Wu (played by Chang Chen) searching for relief from the intense mental stress brought on by Go tournaments. The stress prompts him to join a number of religious cults.

It's not the subject matter that's stopping the film being screened on the mainland, Tian says - it's funding.

'The reason why it's not being shown there is because we don't have the funds to promote it on the mainland,' he says. 'We're still waiting for the money to come through, but it isn't that easy. The film has passed [the censor].'

Tian made the controversial The Blue Kite in 1992, which examined aspects of the Cultural Revolution, from 1966 to 1976. The film won the grand prix at the Tokyo International Film Festival that year, but resulted in Tian being banned from making films on the mainland for a year. 'They said the movie was different from the original scripts I submitted,' he says.

Tian didn't make a film for almost a decade. The Springtime in a Small Town was released in 2001. But he wasn't blacklisted by the mainland authorities during that time. 'I was banned from making films for a year only, but the reason I didn't make a film for 10 years wasn't because the authorities stopped me. It was because nothing inspired me.'

Despite the ban, Tian's passion for filmmaking hasn't waned. 'In the past few years, my interest in filmmaking hasn't changed. It's always been the most important thing in my life. For a filmmaker, it doesn't matter how many films you've made. What's important is how many you've put your heart into.'

Tian isn't sure whether Hong Kong audiences will take to the film. 'It's about the life of Wu and his faith, which Hong Kong audiences aren't familiar with. I admire Wu's lifestyle. There are only two things in his head: Go and his faith. He has a simple life and he's satisfied with what he has. I admire him for these reasons.

'And Wu is anti-war, hoping that one day China and Japan will solve their problems,' he says.

'If you asked me what I have in common with Wu, I'd say his attitude towards Go is the same as mine towards filmmaking.'

The Go Master opens on Thursday



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