Death, life and femininity with Dai Sijie

By Xu Fan ( ) Updated: 2016-05-18 14:52:52

Hailed as the finale of Dai's "feminine triology", Night Peacock continues Dai's tribute to independent women.

The first two installments of the trilogy are Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2002), which was nominated for best foreign picture at the Golden Globes, and The Chinese Botanist's Daughters (2006).

"All the female leads in my movies have similar personalities. They are strong and independent. They never rely on men, or want to be affiliated with men," he says.

Dai's movies feature the intricate use of light and shadow to create an aesthetic world, despite some of his films being set against a backdrop of chaos and turmoil.

"I always want to shoot something beautiful," he says.

The geographical features can also be seen as a cultural mark in his films.

In recent years, Dai has stayed part of the time in Chengdu, a city that he reckons resembles Paris in the slow pace of life and artistic temperament of those drawn to it.

Born in Southeast China's Fujian province, Dai was sent down to the rural Sichuan province during the national campaign of "re-education" from 1971 to 74.

He moved to France in the mid-1980s and has also been a best-selling author writing in French. His namesake novel, which inspired the movie of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, was sold in nearly 20 countries.

With deep roots in China and France, Dai says French filmmakers, based on their comparatively smaller market, have more possibilities and governmental support to do art-house films.

"But China is different. It has such a huge market. I believe its future will be more like Hollywood. Big-budget and commercial films dominate."

He says he understands the investors' demands, but will follow his heart.

"Film is something personal to me close to here," he says, pointing to his heart.

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