A biweekly series where we focus on short works by fresh voices in experimental moving images. Sign up for our mailing list via our contact page to get email updates about new films as we post them.
This week, we are featuring "Origin", a 7 minute video made by artist Jingqian Zhou.
MFW: Much of the imagery of your film, as well as the title 'Origin' is suggestive of a primordial, pre-societal, evolutionary natural world. Can you talk about your ideas behind depicting such a world?
JZ: This is an imaginary ideal space of freedom. The creatures that exist there are genderless and have limitless bodies that integrate the characteristics of human, animal, plant, matter, and soul, can reproduce by themselves and satisfy their own needs. There are no races, none of the definitions and restrictions of our current world; everything is free and equal.
MFW: There are four parts to the film, with distinct elemental feels expressed by color. What motivated your color choices when creating the different sections?
JZ: Each of the four parts has a different original conceptual seed ("matter," "human," "animal/plant/micro-organism," "soul"). The color is chosen according to the imaginary process of the birth of seeds. The first part is the symbol of fertilization red, or explosive red; the second part is the sun's yellow and the moon's blue"; the third part is the transparent black of Qi; the fourth part is the Theophany white.
MFW: The fourth part, Soul/Theophany is interesting because of the way the actor mirrors the skeleton--(I'm seeing the skeleton as the "body" and the actor as the "soul")--could you tell us about how you look at that division between body and soul and why you chose this sequence to end the film?
JZ: In the fourth part, the character performed by the actress (Yuhua Lai) and the skeleton are one--they are both conceptual bodies of the soul. Here, the soul includes all higher creatures such as divinity, and incorporates also the characteristics of human, animal, plants and matter. Although the four parts are placed in a certain order, they are nevertheless parallel; no real order.
MFW: What were your conversations with the actress Yuhua Lai like? Was it a challenge to figure out how to express these abstract concepts physically?
JZ: First of all, this film is not as a documentary of performance, every action is about the progression of the plot. I did a very detailed storyboard before shooting, to the point where all the performance details were already concrete in my mind. When filming, I described each shot in words, or directly performed them to the actress, and discussed them with her. The actress Yuhua is not only very talented in acting but also very imaginative. She can understand what I want to express very well, and even gave me many powerful suggestions.
MFW: The Utopian ideas in your film are especially relevant given so many world events recently which seem like something out of a dystopian novel. Do you think the 'imagined ideal space of freedom' could ever be achieved in the real world?
JZ: I don’t know, but I believe the true freedom will be achieved one day, it just need some time and more thought movement.
Jingqian Zhou is a screenwriter, director, producer, and artist. At the age of 21, she founded her own film company. In 2015, she came to Paris to study filmmaking. After that, she began shooting advertisements, music videos, and films. Through her films, she tries to discuss social phenomenons, humanity and the relationships between humans, animals, plants, matters, and the soul, breaking the so-called definitions and promoting true freedom.