Slamdance - Aerotropolis

 

A man without soul hesitates between his faith and desire.

Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Jheng-Neng LI

 

Congratulations! Why did you make your film?

I am a filmmaker from Taiwan, so in my first feature film, I want to tell a story about my hometown, Taoyuan City. The writer-director is kind of a film artist, and all artists are facing the same two problems in their lifetime. One is "Where are you from?", the other is "Where are you going?". I hope my film can contribute to the world and the history of cinema.

Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?

I believe my story and lead character illustrate specific, present-day, truly universal issues in a way that no other film has done. I try to use my hometown to show universal issues and also with that of Taiwanese culture.

It is a no-budget feature film. The core crew has only three people, total budget is just 7,000 (USD). We only have a small camera (Panasonic-GH4), and shooting took 11 days. We have nothing, but we never give up. Now we meet a miracle, thank God !

How do personal and universal themes work in your film?

With a modern “Aerotropolis” project promised by the Taiwanese government as the story backdrop, this film depicts the emptiness and mental tortures of modern life. A middle-class man living in the suburbs suffers from a meaningless life and meltdown resulted from his repressed desires. Taiwanese government tried to transform Taoyuan City, one of its major urban areas, into an International traffic hub for air/marine transportation. Unfortunately the so-called “Aerotropolis” project was a fiasco. The grand Taoyuan Aerotropolis project has never been realized: the airport subway line construction has been postponed with no specific timetable, over 90% agricultural land destroyed, up to 8,000 families forced to relocate, impacting over 25,000 people. Unaffordable luxury properties have ultimately disrupted the livelihood of ordinary people, propelling the 30 times surge in land asking prices and overnight bubble right before the presidential election. Until today, Taiwan still suffers from a so-called Genesis of Upmarket Housing every single minute.

How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?

In fact, there is no script in this film, I just have an idea at first, and then I take my actor to go and shoot the scene. We just hang out, take a walk, meditate in the real world. We feel the flow of emotions in the real environment, and I ask my actor "What is your feeling?", "What do you want to do in such a scene?", something like that. My assistant (my brother) helped me by writing down to keep it, and I put these notes into one story without the story, just like an alternative "Scene by Scene" poetic script. I always follow Naturalism when I'm making a film, no actor(actress) can see my notes, they don't know the whole story and no need for rehearsal. It sounds a little crazy, but we are in real life, we only can live in the moment, we cannot predict the whole life, no one can see the future. Trusting each other is the most important thing during shooting.

What type of feedback have you received so far?

I am lucky that I meet some smart cinephile and festival programmer. They can understand my feature, because it's a film full of long take style, especially one scene, one shot. Patience is really a virtue.

Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?

I am surprised that some programmer described that my film has an Antonioni-esque vision. Honestly, I rarely see Antonioni's films and I guess the reason is I like contemporary photography, I usually read photo books in my free time.

What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?

I am a new director, this is my first feature film, so I need some opportunities, such as film sales, distribution, target audience, future investors, etc. Now I am also developing my second feature film.

Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?

I think we need sales agents, distributors and film festival directors.

What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?

The ability to see the essence of the world. We live in a dangerous era of globalization. We have the whole world, we can have any material at any time if we want. We are the new "Lost Generation", Contemporary society is so empty that we have lost our soul.

What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?

When you have the whole world, where is your soul?

Would you like to add anything else?

If you are interested in this film, please contact me.

Jheng-Neng LI

jnlfeatures@gmail.com

What are the key creatives developing or working on now?

I'm developing my second feature film, ORCHID, the story is about a man whose nationality was left undetermined and attempted to become a Taiwanese citizen but ended up losing everything. Therefore, he decided to establish a new independent country in Taiwan. It's the second installment of my “Lost Trilogy”, following first feature film AEROTROPOLIS(2017) which tackled the theme of soulless people, reflecting the temporary struggles for immigrants in Taiwan.

 

Interview: January 2017

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 We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us?  More info: Carmela

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AEROTROPOLIS

A man without soul hesitates between his faith and desire.

Length: 75 min

Director: Jheng-Neng LI

Producer: Jheng-Neng LI

Writer: Jheng-Neng LI

About the writer, director and producer:

Jheng-Neng LI is an independent filmmaker from Taiwan, his position is director, scriptwriter, producer, cinematographer and editor. His short films were selected in these film festivals: Shanghai IFF, Macau IFF, Seoul IFF, Taipei FF, etc. In 2014, his feature project "MACARON" was selected in the Berlinare Talents. In 2015, he founded film company "J.N.L. FEATURES". In 2016, he completes his first feature "AEROTROPOLIS". It's the first of the film project "Lost Trilogy". Now he is developing a second feature "ORCHID".

Key cast: Chia-Lun Yang, Jui-Tzu Liu

Looking for : sales agents, distributors, film festival directors

Funders: Jheng-Neng LI

Made in association with: J.N.L. FEATURES Co., Ltd.

Where can I see it in the next month?

Coming soon, we will post the information at official facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/aerotropolis2017movie