Interview | Director Li Shaohong: Women's selflessness is touching and needs reflection

    When the new crown epidemic occurred in the first half of 2020, Li Shaohong's work suddenly stopped. The project is stagnant, can't be done in the later stage, and everyone is in home mode. The female director who has been busy for many years suddenly returned to the family, and the anxious emotions and the daily life were intertwined with the life experience that she had never had before.

    Out of the creator's intuition and habit, she holds her mobile phone every day, trying to get connected with the world by acquiring all kinds of information. Somewhere, Li Shaohong had a hunch that one day, someone would find her to film this life.

    When the cold winter passes, spring comes, and so does the movie. Female producer Dong Wenjie invited her to make a film about the situation of women under the epidemic with three female directors, Zhang Aijia and Chen Chong. Since entering the industry, Li Shaohong has taken over this project almost without hesitation, with a consistent creative perspective, emotional themes, and long-standing cooperating partners.

    "The World Has Her" Highlights

    In the movie "There is Her in the World", the three female directors filmed and captured the daily life of ordinary individuals in the life of this period. Mother-in-law, couples, husband and wife, the gains and losses of different families in the face of special emergencies, as well as the difficulties and tenderness of women themselves hidden in daily life, which are seen and magnified.

    In Li Shaohong's story, Zhou Xun and Xu Di played a pair of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law who were infected one after another during the epidemic and stayed at home to protect their children. When the identities of husbands and sons, which have always been the center of life for two generations of women, leave the field, the tit-for-tat between women gradually disappears. They also reflect each other in their care for each other. Seeing in each other, it is women who should be most cared for. Own.

    Li Shaohong has photographed many women, from the rural girl who lost her virginity in "Blood Morning", to a woman in "Red Pink" who follows the tide and "Flowers and Water Flows"; from "Da Ming Palace Ci" The queens and princesses who are ups and downs in power and desire, to the girls who yearn for freedom under the shackles of feudal ethics in "The Oranges Are Red"... Whether in movies or TV dramas, these lively and powerful women have woven this Chinese The distinctive creative pedigree of the most representative female director has also made Li Shaohong regarded as the spokesperson of "female perspective" for many years.

    She shoots the grand narrative of history, and the audience sees what kind of self-selection women make in the history written by men; and in a short film, trying to use a slice of life to dissect the deep emotional core of women is also a time for Li Shaohong himself. Brand new try.

    "Women are the link in the family, connecting the elderly above, the children below, and the relationship between husband and wife." Although in most of her life, Li Shaohong, as a female director on her own, is not a typical woman in social cognition. What a family should be like, but before she truly became a director, she first became a mother. Among them, there were choices, sacrifices, and self-awareness of ups and downs. This life experience also laid the foundation for her future. The soft and powerful gaze in the creation.

    "There is Her in the World" was released in theaters nationwide on September 9. Director Li Shaohong was interviewed by The Paper. She talked about her observation and perception of women in today's life, and also talked about her own way of gradually consciously building a female consciousness along the way. course.

    Li Shaohong


    Capture the full feeling you just experienced

    The Paper : When you received this creative invitation, or when everyone was just hit by the epidemic, what was your reaction to it?

    Li Shaohong : I accepted it almost without hesitation. At that time, I saw a lot of news every day, and I also experienced all kinds of things that happened, and I felt a lot of feelings. During that process, I would have a desire to go all out to find, see, and feel, and I always felt that one day someone would come to me. During the epidemic, I was thinking that if one day someone came to me to shoot the story in this process, I would be very willing. Because this history, and the lives of the people in it, are really worth recording. As a result, someone really came to me, and it was a female producer who came up to tell me her thoughts and wanted to ask the female director to tell me about this process from a female perspective. This proposal especially hit my heart. I could cooperate with directors Zhang Aijia and Chen Chong. This combination also attracted me very much, so I agreed without hesitation.

    The Paper : This kind of creation that is very close to the present and takes place almost in real time, will it be difficult?

    Li Shaohong : I think it depends on the angle. If you want a comprehensive macro performance, it may be difficult to get too close, but its entry point is very good, the entry point of the interception is very clever, and it is very close to ourselves. As a female director, It is very easy to unfold the story through observation and experience. This time period of the story in the movie is almost just connected to the period of time that just happened, and the feelings at that time are fresh and full. These may make you have a definite goal, and you can know more clearly what you want to talk about, such as family life, From a female perspective, you can find that fulcrum.

    The Paper : What was your own life like since the epidemic at that time, and what was your own state and observation of the people around you at that time?

    Li Shaohong : At that time, like everyone else, I suddenly returned to my family and was suddenly isolated from the world and society. For us, this experience is almost the first time in our life. We rely entirely on all kinds of information, and we learn about all aspects of what is happening in reports almost 24 hours a day. contact channels. That's an emotion we bring into the story later.

    Life is also a process of rediscovery, because in the past too many years, work has occupied the majority, and family life has become more and more weakened in the past so many years. When we are busy filming, home is almost like your hotel. In the past two or three years since the epidemic, the people who have been in contact with the most are the family members, and the family members seem to feel closer. I will also realize that I seem to have overlooked a lot of important things in life, especially some emotions and family relationships. , This time it gave me a special feeling.

    The questions I thought about at that time and the life I felt after suddenly calmed down. At first, it seemed that my home was a very unfamiliar environment. Later, I felt that it was fine, and many of my inner feelings became clearer. In the past two years, many friends have not seen each other for a long time. When I see you again, I find that everyone seems to be healthy. Everyone is keen to talk about health, fitness, and cooking, and they seem to be more enthusiastic about life.

    Stills of "The World Has Her"

    The mother-in-law and daughter-in-law who are "mothers of each other" take care of themselves

    The Paper : Why did you choose the relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law to solve the problem? What are your observations of women in this relationship?

    Li Shaohong : We all know that the family is the smallest unit of society, and in this unit, its basic components are the three elements of elders, marriage, and children, so generally speaking, it is necessary to live, or a movie that reflects life. , are basically inseparable from these three.

    During this period of the epidemic, after everyone has returned to their families, in fact, the conflicts and conflicts in the triangle are the most intense emotional collisions. When this proposition was given to us, it was difficult to avoid such a relationship from the perspective of life and from the perspective of women, especially when a family is "mutually mother", it will touch on a particularly strong relationship. female perspective.

    For me, the part that moves and needs reflection is "self-forgetfulness". In fact, this is the biggest characteristic of many women in life. She will become selfless. The foundation and goal of all life is for the family. Donate, donate to your children.

    Our story tells that when the epidemic happened, the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law were both concerned about their own small family. In this special period, a woman is the embodiment of motherhood, and she will always care for the people around her, whether it is family or love. Even if it happened to themselves, they still habitually care about their husbands and sons. Their conflicts are caused by caring about other people, which also clearly reflects the characteristics of women we want to express.

    But this kind of concern finally caused them to suddenly question and wake up to each other. Like the mirror images of mirrors, they illuminated each other and found that the person who needed the most attention was themselves, and in the process, they All ignored this.

    I think women always have a particularly bright side in difficult situations, but they are especially self-sacrificing. When everyone talks about women being independent, in fact, the mutual understanding and mutual assistance in independence is also worth writing about. And through the relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, it is a very life-like experience to tell that women can protect others because they are strong. It is a reality amplified by the very small feelings in life.

    The Paper : Many of the historical TV dramas you've done in the past are of the "giant" style. Do you feel fresh when you make a short film this time?

    Li Shaohong : Short films are actually (not) too good to shoot. I have been in contact with short films a lot over the years, including our own scallion project and various short film festivals. It's good to have such an opportunity. The requirements for short films and feature films are different, but I think their requirements are very high. I experienced it myself, and even thought it was more difficult than a feature film.

    Stills of "The World Has Her"

    The Paper : This time we see you and Zhou Xun working together again. As a "Bole" who has witnessed her growth along the way, how do you evaluate Zhou Xun at this stage?

    Li Shaohong : We have accompany and witnessed each other over the years, and we have always been very close emotionally. But in terms of works, the last collaboration was in 2006. At that time, she was still a girl, or a little Hua Dan, and now she has played the role of Da Qingyi. This kind of cooperation and long-term companionship is very interesting, and the relationship between each other has also changed from a cooperative relationship to a family feeling.

    She must have matured a lot. When she's talking to you about the characters, how she feels and the things she pays attention to, you'll know she's really grown up. In performance, she is as persistent as when she was young, but her requirements are more precise.

    When working together again, there was nothing strange about her. She still insisted that she felt very real. This time at the scene, she would ask me many times after the performance, "Have I changed?" I think what she meant was I want to ask me how she thinks she is acting now, is it good or not, she hopes to be confirmed by me. I'm someone who saw her early on, and it's a lifelong experience for her. So she will be very concerned about the cooperation between us, which I am really happy about.

    Become a mother, become a female director

    The Paper : In your own life experience, is there a stage where you care more about others than yourself?

    Li Shaohong : I think this is nature. It's not just me, I think women have it. I can't get rid of this woman's nature from beginning to end. I think this is the way every woman is born to think about problems, and always put the people she loves in the most important position.

    The Paper : I noticed your experience. In fact, from the graduation assignment to the film studio to the filming of "Silver Snake Murder" in 1988, there was a period of time in the family, or even stopped working. You can talk about that part. Did your experience influence your later creations?

    Li Shaohong : Yes, I thought I would start independent filming very early, but I still accepted it. Be a mother first, and first complete my first work in my life, which is my child.

    I insisted on going out to film after my child went to kindergarten, that is, there are three or four years to return to the family. Because my mother is also a director, I myself was basically taken by my dad through my childhood in her absence. So when I have children myself, I tell myself that I must not be absent. I want to be a stay-at-home mom, at least to make up for this lack of feeling in my own childhood.

    At that time, my husband had passed the postgraduate entrance examination, and he had no income. I wanted to have children at home and raise them, and I didn’t have any income if I didn’t film, so we basically settled the account and lived frugally during that time. At that time, it was actually very important to me. This experience and the feeling of life and life at that time were very important in terms of life experience and my career, because you truly experienced the most essential aspects of life. All kinds of things, I am very grateful that I chose at that stage, and I was not absent at the stage when my child needed the most care.

    The Paper : In fact, this choice still has a price. You seem to have missed the most prosperous period of the fifth generation, and later entered the creation of TV dramas. Are there any regrets about a result like this?

    Li Shaohong : Actually, at the beginning, I was a little hesitant, because the environment at that time was that most of our classmates started to direct films independently, including Zhang Yimou, Kai Ge, Zhuang Zhuang, and these classmates around me. The directors have made their own films independently, but I have to go back to my family. I was hesitant to do this at first. It was very contradictory for a while, and I felt that my artistic development path might be affected.

    But after I decided to give birth to this child, I was very firm. I insisted on working after she went to kindergarten. The child's slow gestation process will offset your anxiety. This process is very magical. I don't have that anxiety anymore, like a happy little woman, looking forward to the arrival of a life, when I see a child, it is really a wonderful feeling. This kind of feeling will permeate every bit of how you look at life. When you create something, you will have a different understanding and feeling of many things.

    "The World Has Her" Highlights

    The Paper : For a long time, as a representative of Chinese female directors, you have "spoken" for female filmmakers on such occasions. During this process, have you felt how the situation of female directors has changed since entering the industry?

    Li Shaohong : It has a process. In the early days of the planned economy, there were really a lot of female directors. We may even have the most female directors in the world. In the early 1990s, when I went abroad to communicate, others asked, "How many female directors are there in your country?" , As soon as I thought about it, there are more than 20 female directors who are more active in our Beijing Film Studio. At that time, we had a planned economy, and we assigned jobs. We also proposed that "women should hold up half the sky." There should be no gender boundaries in jobs, so when assigning jobs, we didn't think too much about the difference between men and women. Class 78 is actually the one with the largest number of female students in the film academy. We have 28 classmates in this class, and 9 of them are female.

    When the market economy started, the number of female directors did start to decline, including the girls in our class, which gradually became more and more difficult, because in the past, filmmaking was distributed by the factory, but in the market economy, they all rely on themselves to operate, Looking for money, at that time the director himself was the producer, planner, and even the director of marketing, distribution and publicity. I wish you had to do everything yourself. In this transition process, the requirements for directors are constantly changing. If you want to film, you must have a full-time job. So I think, with a dozen or 20 years in between, it is really difficult for female directors to persist in this industry. Up to now, the market has gradually improved, channels have been opened, and there are more and more mechanisms to help young directors. We have also found that more and more female directors have gradually emerged, and the proportion of women who finally entered the top 5 is also increasing. higher. At the beginning, I would still think that it is not easy for female directors, should I give them special care and support, but later I found that I really don’t need it.

    I think they are all different from our generation. They are comfortable with their choices and situations, and several female directors have come to make their first films after they have finished giving birth. In them, I really don't feel as entangled as I did in my time, it seems that the independence and progress of women has better feedback in this generation, they are more confident than I was in those days, and they can also arrange family and relationship. Very good, and there is not such a big ideological burden. I feel that making a movie will delay them.

    The Paper : What about the part that women express? Usually, many people think that the more private experience from women's perspective will be less public and more narrow, but in recent years, more and more attention has been paid to the social and public nature of women's issues. What is your experience with this?

    Li Shaohong : For our generation, we do have this process. Because we grew up under a collectivist value system, we unconsciously pay more attention to collective consciousness and use it as the dominant consciousness. At that time, we emphasized the weakening of the concept of gender, consciously emphasized that we should think about problems "like men", and consciously hope that we "de-feminine" in our behavioral logic and worldview. This has been deeply ingrained in our growth process.

    After the reform and opening up, there have been some changes gradually, which is actually a change in our gender consciousness, a process from unconsciousness to consciousness. There are unconscious parts in my early creations, but at that time, I would doubt whether this is good or not, and whether I should stick to it. When I was filming "Red Pink" in 1995, I struggled for a long time, and finally I returned to the female perspective of Su Tong's novels. During this process, I realized that this kind of return is very important. The female perspective is not the same as the female subject. When you observe society from a female perspective and express it with your experience, this is an important factor, not a Restricting female directors to only shoot things related to women.

    There is another important event. In the 1990s, I went to participate in the World Women's Congress. At that time, I was quite shocked. It turned out that there was such a meeting. It turned out that speaking up for women is recognized by the whole world, and it is especially worth taking out. One thing that was said, I felt the legitimacy of a certain female expression at that time, and it was also a great encouragement for me to recognize my own expression.

    The Paper : What do you think about the expression of women in this era? It seems that everyone pays attention to women's rights now, but sometimes it is easy to affect sensitive nerves?

    Li Shaohong : I think there is much more freedom than before, and there is also a foundation based on common cognition at the social level. But I also feel that there is some excessive labeling, and some commercial labels may be made using the topic of women, but we should be able to identify this kind of labeling.


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