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10/22 (Tue) A police story from Inner Mongolia: Competition “To Live and Die in Ordos” Press Conference


©2013 TIFF

10/22 (Tue) A police story from Inner Mongolia: Competition “To Live and Die in Ordos” Press Conference
Time & Location:
October 22nd (Tuseday), from 12:48 @TOHO Cinemas Roppongi Hills Screen 4
Ning Ying(Director/Screenplay)
Wang Jingchun(Actor)

The great challenge for Chinese filmmakers for the last decade or so has been addressing the enormous social changes that have accompanied the blossoming of their economy. Ning Ying’s “To Live and Die in Ordos” looks at all the aspects of these changes through the true story of Hao Wanzhong, a school teacher who later became a detective and eventually the chief of police of a district in Inner Mongolia that was rife with crime due to the productive coal mines in the region that attracted so many migrant workers. Hao became a folk legend for various reasons, the main one being his incorruptibility—there are a number of scenes in the movie attesting to his refusal to be bribed—but mainly because of his inadvertent martyrdom. He died at the age of 41, basically from overwork.

©2013 TIFF

Ning admitted during the press conference that she saw Hao’s story as an opportunity to explore all the different facets of China’s explosive development. In fact, she seemed overwhelmed by it. When one reporter remarked on how many “problems” she was able to cover in one film, she answered, “It wasn’t that I wanted to show how many problems China is going through right now. What I wanted to show is how difficult it is to achieve a democratic society through the kind of economic development that China is experiencing.” She dwelled on a segment in the film about a truck drivers strike at a coal mine. In the film, Hao discovers that the strike has really been orchestrated by a criminal organization that extorts money out of drivers and which has called the strike to extract higher payoffs. Though the police have no jurisdiction over labor disputes, Hao goes in with his men and arrests all the strikers with the understanding that those who are mob-connected will be the ones who are punished, allowing the real truckers to go back to their normal jobs without fear. Ning pointed out that the truth behind this true story is “much more complicated”—that the strike had continued for 4 years and the police department didn’t want to “interfere,” but the central government needed that coal and wanted to resolve the strike by any means necessary. How to convey this conundrum was one of the central issues in her telling of the story.
But Hao’s own difficulties transcended the political or even the social. The child of a very poor family who saw police work as something exciting, he became obsessed with the job once he realized what it entailed. His first case is a triple murder that his department could never solve, and it haunted him for the rest of his life. Ning makes this case the film’s leitmotif, something that haunts Hao’s dreams and informs his logic with regard to any other case. It also damages his family life. His wife and son almost never see him, and the most moving scene is one in which he returns home after a 40-day absence to celebrate New Years with his family only to leave abruptly when a call comes saying that a suspect in a murder-robbery has been identified in a remote village. He leaves his son crying and his wife angry as he drives the 12 hours-plus to this godforsaken burg and arrests a poor soul who killed out of desperation because he needed money to return home to visit his mother. There but for the grace of God…

©2013 TIFF

Wang Jingchun, who played Hao, said that he had never portrayed a real person before, and was intimidated by the part. “I started by trying to look like him,” he said. “I put on 10 kilograms, and learned the local dialect. But along with the director I also carried out research, met the people who knew him and watched lots of videos about him. I wanted to get into his inner world and understand his hatred of evil and his sense of justice. But at the same time I couldn’t forget that he died so young. It forced me to think about what it means to be human.”
A columnist from Newsweek Japan said that he saw the movie earlier in the festival and was so impressed that he decided to see it again. “I think it’s wonderful,” he enthused, “it shows both the positive and negative sides of China. Can you screen such a film uncensored there?”
Ning assured him that China “is quite open now,” but since TIFF is the venue for the film’s world premiere she doesn’t know about its prospects in China. “I need your help for that,” she said to the assembled media.

KEIRIN.JPThe 25th Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
25th Tokyo International Film Festival(2012)