Huang Ji and Ryuji Otsuka’s STONEWALLING to a number of the top film festivals this fall. An incisive and very well-researched third collaboration with the talented actor Yao Honggui, STONEWALLING will be a extra satisfying for those who have followed the directors through FOOLISH BIRD (Berlinale Generation Special Mention 2017) and EGG AND STONE (IFFR Tiger Awards 2012).
20 year-old Lynn is told she needs English classes, flight attendant school, and a go getter-attitude. She perseveres along this path of upward mobility until she finds out she’s pregnant. Indecisive and running out of time, she tells her boyfriend she’s had an abortion and instead returns to her feuding parents and their failing clinic to try and figure out (if she can) what’s next.
Built from interviews with college women happy to invest in themselves, observations of a post-Tik Tok China, and their own lived experiences, STONEWALLING is perceptive with meticulous attention to detail. Returning with a now adult Yao Honggui (FOOLISH BIRD, EGG AND STONE) opposite the directors’ own parents, husband-and-wife team Huang Ji and Ryuji Otsuka take a look at the new norms of gig-economy, grey markets, MLMs, and hustling in modern-day metropolitan China through the experiences of one ordinary young woman.
P&I Screening – Wednesday August 31st at 21:30 in Sala Corinto, via Sandro Gallo.
World Premiere – Thursday September 1st, at 16:45 in Sala Perla, Casinò Palace.
Additional Screening – September 9th at 21:45 in Sala Corinto.
North American Premiere – Monday September 12th at 19:35 – Scotiabank 11
P&I Screening – Tuesday September 13th at 9:45 AM – Scotiabank 9
Public – Wednesday September 14th 14:45PM – Scotiabank 9
STONEWALLING is the third part of a series made up of EGG AND STONE and FOOLISH BIRD, which all deal with sexual awakening, girlhood / young woman-hood and independence.
All of them feature Yao Hong gui who rarely acts outside your films. Can you talk about your relationship with her, and how has that evolved as she herself has become an adult? How did you first meet?
When we shot EGG AND STONE I scouted all the schools in my hometown before I found her. Her parents were economic migrants who had left her in their hometown (commonly referred to as “left-behind” children).
I could tell by her body language and the look in her eyes that she had locked herself up in her inner-world. We decided to shoot according to her rhythm. We observed her in everyday life; as she began to understand womanhood and experience her sexual awakening; her encounters with others and society. From her lived experience, we built a series of films focusing on female sensuality, identity and independence.
You mentioned in a previous conversation that it was important to you that the character of Lynn is not very bright, an average girl. Why was that a point to note?
In media, women are often portrayed as in-control and aware of what they are doing. Smart, conniving… But I think women do not have an innate ability from day one to absorb, analyze and act on what their bodies go through. Women need the physical lived experiences of their bodies to grow their understanding of themselves. I wanted to show Lynn as a very average girl facing a difficult situation. And in that difficult situation, which is largely out of her control and unplanned, we watch her face her predicament equipped only with her do-it-yourself instinct and hard work. This is female power.
Your parents play the role of the Lynn’s parents. How did you broach this to them, and what did they say?
I was also a left-behind child all my life. I lived in my parent’s clinic during the shoot, which I had never done before, not for a long period of time in any case. And though the character inside the film is Lynn, I thought that if I got my parents to act in the film, I could watch them and their relationship with their daughter. I think they also thought, “it’d be like we were with our daughter.”
Why the interest in the gig economy?
We interviewed a lot of college-aged students. These young women were happy to spend their own money and invest in themselves to achieve validation from society. They all wanted to make money. But college students could only make money or gain experience by working jobs, or taking on part-time positions outside of their field of study for the opportunity to make more money.