The concept for ‘Encounter in Jiangnan’ came to writer/director Gary Yong on a train ride.
“It feels like there’s never enough time, and yet here I was on a 12-hour train ride,” says Yong, who was working against a deadline to enter the ‘Picturesque and Dynamic Zhejiang’ global short film contest.
“There was this paradox of not having enough time, for an idea that came to me when I had so much of it. I was thinking about how both these things could be true — especially today, when everything is speeding up. More and more demands on our time, alongside more and more time-saving technologies.”
The result is a short film which questions the fluid, temporal nature of time in relation to attention.
‘Encounter in Jiangnan’ blends the old and the new, tapping into the cultural landscape and aesthetics of ancient Chinese poetry and ink painting, as well as the future-forward thinking of generative AI film production.
“When a foreign athlete meets a local artist in the beautiful water town of Shaoxing, Zhejiang, their chance encounter inspires them to poetize the fleeting moments in life,” Lee summarized on Weibo, where the video has racked up over a half-million views.
“As we blur the lines between past and present, technology and art, what emerges is a meditation on the ineffable beauty of our world, calling us back to the present moment,” she added.
The concept for the film is grounded in the classic ‘Orchid Pavilion Preface,’ a renowned work of calligraphy by Wang Xizhi, who is sometimes regarded as the greatest calligrapher in Chinese history.
But for Yong, it’s important to romanticize the present moment as much as we do the past.
“Jiangnan isn’t just a physical place, a landscape, a scenery,” Yong tells RADII. "It represents a sort of nostalgia for something that’s always been in the past. Even in ancient times, the way the poets wrote about it, that romanticism was always there.”
“It’s not just us looking back,” he adds. “It’s them looking back as well, feeling like they’d missed something!”
Images via Gary Yong
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