SoFTA Hosts the Screening of Documentary "Your Friends"

05 Jan 2024

The School of Film and TV Arts at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University successfully organized a screening event for the documentary "Your Friends" at AS cinema, planned by teacher Yibin Yu of the Filmmaking Programme. The event featured the presence of documentary filmmaker Director Bo Yang, who engaged in close interaction with faculty and students.

"Your Friend": Depicting the Creative Life of Artist Xiaodong Liu

"Your Friend" is a documentary that explores the artistic project of the same name by the artist Xiaodong Liu in 2020.

Xiaodong Liu is known for incorporating forms such as documentaries and diaries into his works. This approach adds a "live" experience to his paintings, reminiscent of the visual documentation often associated with performance art. The exhibition displayed handwritten diaries by Xiaodong Liu, including lyrics from the song "Your Friend," which is featured in the documentary's finale: "Your city, your landscapes, your friends; the sky gets a bit bluer, the walls get a bit darker, the pillars get a bit thicker, things get a bit more right."

Director Bo Yang, through the lens, opened a window for the audience to understand the artist's life. The "close contact" with the artist, his family, and friends prompted profound reflections on time, relationships, and life for the audience. This heartfelt piece resonated strongly with viewers, and the specially edited 82-minute version provided an unforgettable viewing experience filled with laughter and tears.

"This work enriches our minds, broadens our perspectives, and elevates our understanding. More importantly, it deepens our emotions," praised Yu.

Director Shares Filming Insights, Encourages Students

After the screening, Director Yang shared his years of work experience and enthusiastically answered audience questions.

The director first discussed his transition from being a commercial director to a documentary filmmaker. Regarding students' interest in scheduling and executing certain scenes in "Your Friend," the director shared the workflow and behind-the-scenes anecdotes of the concurrent filming. From effectively capturing scenes depicting relationships to transforming the traditional "interview-style" documentary approach into narrative techniques, the director openly shared his insights.

"Time is the documentary's most powerful weapon," stated Yang. He illustrated how to leverage the power of time in a visually recorded documentary within a short time frame, citing the use of segments from director Xiaoshuai Wang's 1993 film "Days of Winter and Spring" in "Your Friend" as an example. Additionally, the director exchanged views with students on his understanding of the documentary production cycle, encouraging those who love documentaries to precisely outline the storyline within a limited time, enhance work efficiency, and refine secondary creations.

The Difficulty of Documentary Filmmaking and the Freedom of Art

Among all forms of visual creation, documentaries are considered a relatively free form of artistic expression. Audiences are generally more tolerant and receptive to documentaries than narrative films.

After highlighting the advantages of documentary filmmaking, Yang, drawing from his own experiences, shared with the audience the challenges he faced during the documentary creation process. For example, high time costs, rapid occurrences of events, and the more one documents, the more regrets there may be.

Finally, Yang encouraged young documentary filmmakers to focus on continually adding to their technical skills and subtracting from the content. One significant lesson for documentary directors is to "know what you don't want."

This screening event allowed students to interact with professionals in the actual film production industry, promoting the integration of academic knowledge and practical experience. It offered valuable insights for students' future career development.


Contributed by Yibin Yu

Edited by Wenzhen Li

Photos by Zhenyu Wang

05 Jan 2024