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Beijing Review Exclusive
Special> Aftermath of the Quake> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: June 3, 2008 NO. 23 JUN. 5, 2008
Recording Tragedy
Filmmaker hopes a movie on the Wenchuan earthquake will inspire and move audiences

Chinese filmmakers are ensuring that they record the destructive events that caused so much pain in Sichuan Province. According to a report in The Beijing News on May 22, a group of filmmakers entered the quake-stricken area on May 14 to shoot actual scenes for a documentary film they are preparing. In the report, Yin Li, Director of the film and the leader of the 17-person shooting crew in Sichuan, said that they had been to every county of the quake-hit region and tried to record as much graphic footage as possible in the quake aftermath.

The scenes shot to date are of soldiers clearing blocked roads due to landslides, transportation of relief materials to the quake-hit areas and how the rescue teams and medical workers raced against time to save lives.

"We had some narrow escapes when landslides caused by aftershocks put some of our crew in danger," Yin said. "I have never experienced shooting in this kind of situation before."

The film is titled Wenchuan 168 Hours and the script of the film is being created while shooting takes place, Shi Dongming, Vice Manager of the China Film Group Corp., one of the investors of the film, told reporters in Sichuan on May 24.

"We have been revising and enriching the script during the past 10 days and five playwrights have participated in the script creation," Shi said. He further revealed that the film would be formally shot in June when actors and actresses were incorporated, and he hoped the film would be ready for screening in China in October this year.

Scenes that TV viewers have been watching daily will not be used in the planned film, according to Shi. "We hope to avoid a stereotyped approach," he said. "The audiences have seen too many tragic scenes about the calamity and we do not want them to return to the sadness again."

Shi said that they were resolved to produce a film reflecting the great spirit and character of the Chinese people and the love and sympathy among the people that have been manifested in such a tremendous disaster. They hope audiences will be both moved and inspired by the film.

Shi said that the aim is for the film to have a lasting appeal. "Although the film will be in a documentary style, it will not be a production just for the occasion and will be produced as a quality movie," Shi said.

According to Shi, the process to recruit actors and actresses has already begun, with a preference given to actors born in Sichuan Province. "Most outdoor shooting will be done in Sichuan, and so actors who grew up in there will be more familiar with the environment and we think the feeling of actors about their hometown will make their performances more natural and real," he said.

Director Yin said that this was not the first time the China Film Group Corp. had produced a film focusing on disasters. During the SARS epidemic in 2003, they produced films on China's battle with the disease. "We will learn from our former experiences and present a sincere art work to audiences," he said.

"We will not make the audiences shed tears just by sad scenes, and we hope the audience can be moved by stories, details and vivid depiction of characters," said Yin.

Besides the shooting crew of the film Wenchuan 168 Hours, more than 10 other film-shooting teams are also in Sichuan to make films about the earthquake that has shocked the world.

"It is good," said Shi, referring to the many films being made. "It is the social responsibility of filmmakers to record all that has happened after a big disaster and share it with people around the world," he said.

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