If someday on a noisy city street or a dusty road of a remote village in China, a battered van wrapped in slogans and red flags bumped into your view and high-pitched songs of the 1960s explode your eardrums, you should not think you were back to the 1960s. It’s LIU coming.
Liu used to hold a good position in the local government in Tibet. However, he quit his job and left his family twelve years ago. He went on a long, non-stop journey, traveling around China. With a broken van as his only companion, Liu dedicates himself to the great aspiration of establishing a university of international communism on his own. Ironically,the individualistic nature of his heroism makes him politically provocative in a regime that advocates collectivism.
The shooting of the documentary started in 2007 and has lasted for eight years. The story unfolds as the protagonist’s journey goes on, both reaching back to his traumatic past rooted in the Maoist era and forward to the obscure future of capitalist China. In some ways, Liu’s personal past and present are intimately intermingled with those of this nation; their intersections constantly move forward with the spinning wheels of Liu’s outlandishly decorated old van.
For many years,Liu has put himself on a journey that would led him to Beijing but also would take him back to the past -a time infused with memories of both glory and agony. Possibly, what happened in 1974 was only accidental. However, the tragedy is that he had been pushed off the train of history by a giant invisible hand, falling from the peak of his life to the nadir. Deeply traumatized, Liu struggles to get back on his feet and forges ahead in his chariot. Unfortunately, the train of the epoch has already roared away.
Liu, a Don Quixote of China, with all his maniac faith in the past is in a way like a spiritual detector that probes through the surface of Chinese society, and make us see more clearly the mentality of Chinese people at the present.
In the rear mirror of Liu’s van, I also catch a glimpse of myself struggling for the ‘truth’ during the eight year-long journey of shooting the film. Maybe the truth lies nowhere but in the stubborn silence of the protagonist and the blankness of the narrated history. In the cracks of the fading ruins of a socialist utopia,a small voice from my self-reflection echoes.
Documentary filmmaker,Obtained his Ph.D in Film Study in 2007 at ECNU. Now he is the associate professor of College of Art & Media,Tongji University, Shanghai.
1 Gold Underground,138min,2011,awarded the Grand Prize of Beijing Independent Film Festival 2012,officially selected by 2011 Copenhagen International Documentary film festival(CPH:DOX) and 2013 Yamagata International Documentary film festival（YIDFF）,etc;
2 My Last Secret,90min,2008, credited as Top Ten Chinese Documentary of CIFF and awarded Grand prize of 2010 Chinese Collegial Association For Visual Art, officially selected by the 9th JEONJU International Film Festival and the 15th Shanghai TV Festival, etc;
3 Pedaling Father,107min,2007,NHK World HD ;
4 Walk in the Dark,90min,2005 , officially selected by the 20th Fribourg International Film Festival,the 8th Taipei Film Festival, etc⋯
1 Close reading of the film in the 20th century , Jilin Fine Art Press,2002;
2 Documentary Filmmaking, Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press,2006;
3 Direct cinema as a filming method, Tongji University Press,2012;
4 Poems: Fierce Floods and Savage Beasts in the Dream, 2015.
Documentary filmmaker, associate professor of College of Art & Media ,Tongji University, Shanghai.
Her major feature documentaries include Gold Underground,My Last Secret,Pedaling Father,Walk in the Dark , which have been widely selected and awarded by the international film festivals such as CPH:DOX(Denmark), YIDFF(Japan) JIFF(Korea),FIFF(Switzerland), TIFF(Taiwan), SIFF (China),etc
Her major books include: ‘A Review of American Classic Films’ and Translation work “Robert J. Flaherty: A Biography”