“Female filmmakers, like all filmmakers, care for the whole world and do their best to tell the stories that touch their hearts”
– Bridging the Dragon met up with the female director of the recent, surprising Chinese hit Sister, which grossed €110 millon at the Chinese box office
Yin Ruoxin is a director and writer working in China who has directed and written multiple dramas, films and TV series. Her screenplay Marry Me went into the top 10 at the box office of China’s new theatres in 2015. Bridging the Dragon met up with her, whose recent, surprising hit Sister, grossed €110 million at the Chinese box office.
Cineuropa: In recent years, we have seen an emergence of female professionals and female-related content in the Chinese film industry. Why do you think there is such an emergence?
Yin Ruoxin: I personally think that women have been expressing themselves and speaking out for generations. There have always been female filmmakers and female-related films in China. In recent years, female-related content and creators have been given more and more attention as a whole, which I believe is related to the development, diversification and liberalisation of social networks and the rise of women’s self-consciousness. I think these two are complementary to each other. Without a social environment that emphasises equality and the value of individuals, women still wouldn’t be able to find an outlet to express themselves. In a society which is more tolerant and thought-provoking, women are no longer seen as “secondary” and don’t have to repeat the same fate, follow the same path. The more women express themselves, the more women’s thoughts and ideas will be taken seriously by the world. Only in this way can more and more women’s films or stories about their feelings break into the mainstream and be more widely seen.
What are the challenges for a female director in China?
Hmm… from my point of view, there are challenges everywhere… Every filmmaker faces challenges. What is your next movie? What is it about? Is it your own story? Will it work? Will it be financed? However, I think female filmmakers have one additional challenge, that’s the “definition” of women. As a woman, people would assume that you only make films about women, or that you should only make films about women. You are confined to a “definition,” a “concept.” In my opinion, it’s very narrow-minded. As a woman, of course I feel obliged to speak out for women, but as part of society and as a world citizen, I feel the urge to express my feelings for every person and every story that moves me as well. Therefore, I think female filmmakers should stick to their own emotions, not to be confined by the expectation of society, but to express their own voices more boldly. Female filmmakers should not just be labeled as “female.” Female filmmakers, like all filmmakers, care for the whole world and do their best to tell the stories that touch their hearts.
Your previous work Sister has created mass discussion and achieved box office and artistic success in China, how would you comment on this success?
It was a special experience for me. The filming of Sister was a wonderful experience. As a director, I know that this story is not only about the fate of many women, but also about many ordinary people, about their struggles and plights, so I hope this story can be seen by more people. From the shooting to the release of Sister, I have felt the power of the film over and over again. I’m also grateful for the feedback I’ve received so far, and I know I can stand with more people.
Do you think the future will bring more collaborations between Europe and China? If yes, in what aspects?
I look forward to more collaborations between China and Europe. I know that we share the same emotions and same stories. I look forward to creating stories freely that are truly relevant to us, where different individuals form different encounters and stories.
To me, it wouldn’t be enough to co-operate only on the technical level, for example, inviting Chinese creators and crew to work on a European film or hiring a good European DOP to work on a Chinese film. I think more in-depth collaboration would be meaningful, for example, a Chinese director making a European film, or a European team telling a Chinese story. Of course, it has its risks and challenges on the cultural level. But when people observe and interpret reality from different perspectives, it might make the local story more diverse and interesting.
I look forward to collaborations on the story and content level, to tell the similarities and differences in our life experiences. Who knows, maybe we can create a story about a young European in China, presenting how he perceives and fits into the current environment there. For me, it is my aspiration to explore the different situations of individuals, the dilemma or their identities. I hope to tell such stories.