Chinese director calls
Director Yang Chao says his film Chang Jiang Tu ( Crosscurrent), shown in competition on Monday at the Berlin International Film Festival, is like a love poem for one of the most important rivers in China — and also one of its most damaged.
The film blends elements of the real and the surreal as it follows a quest by the young captain Gao Chun, played by Qin Hao, as he steers his decrepit hulk of a freighter up the 6,300-kilometer river to deliver amysterious cargo.
He is also in pursuit of a beautiful young woman, An Lu (Xin Zhilei), who may or may not be a phantasm, and who appears at various places along the river, sometimes to make love to him, at other times to vanish from sight.
During the voyage, Gao reads from a book of poetry that is hidden away in a special compartment on the boat, while the screen flashes verses from famous poets of Chinese history.
“There’s a big classical tradition ofChinese poetry and successive Chinese poets from the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) through the other dynasties to the present day have used a variety of approaches to describe, to talk about the Yangtze River,” Yang says.
“But for people in China the Yangtze River doesn’t just exist on that level of culture and poetry. In the different eras of Chinese history, it also has been the most prosperous belt of China. So in a way it’s a